Friday, April 6, 2012

Beaming smiles

It's time for games after today's speeches finished at the NBIC
This morning, Cambodia celebrated the World Down's Syndrome and World Autism Awareness Day with a ceremony at the National Borei center near Nothbridge School, in order to highlight the work that is taking place in the country through organizations like Komar Pikar Foundation, PSE and others. But it is clearly not enough. These organizations are simply scratching at the surface of this country-wide problem where families and authorities don't understand autism or Down's Syndrome, or any intellectual disability. Physical disability they can understand because they can see it. Mental or intellectual disability is something entirely different. Many families have no coping mechanism and even chain their disabled children up during the day or even make them live with the family animals. No-one knows the extent of the problem throughout the country. The government authorities put a finger in the air and guess the size of it. Meanwhile, Komar Pikar are doing as much as they can, with limited resources, to provide these children with a better quality of life. They have 3 daycare centers in the town of Chhouk, between Phnom Penh and Kampot, where they try to integrate intellectually disabled children into the mainstream school, provide them with sports days or trips to the zoo and more besides. At today's celebration, some 170 children from a variety of NGOs, together with 70 caring staff and 50 parents sat through the speeches and then you could see the smiles beaming across their faces as they received gifts and started playing games. For them, this was the highlight of the celebration. And rightly so.
Kulikar Sotho, Hanuman's chief speaks to Kong Vichetra, the executive director of Komar Pikar
A photo from DAP news who covered today's event - well done to DAP

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