Wednesday, 7 May 2014

So what's all this about then?

By Kathryn Baldacchino

Here is the story of how this 

became this

And then became this

Steve and I volunteered for a Cambodian NGO called Yodifee. This NGO went to staggering lengths to support youth with disabilities. Yodifee has experienced that people with disabilities have huge obstacles to overcome within the Cambodian context, and discrimination against people with disabilities in Cambodia is rife, and this leads to their social exclusion. The exclusion of children and youth with disabilities from education, results in their forfeiting opportunities for further development, decreasing their access to vocational training, employment and income generation. Failure to benefit from education and training prevents the full inclusion of children and youth with disabilities into society, and ultimately increases their vulnerability to poverty.

Based in Takhmao, which is just a short while out of the city Phnom Penh, but is pretty rural, Yodifee has its headquarters - Villa Maria. Here they house some youth who for whatever reasons cannot remain at home if they want to pursue their studies and careers. Some have lost their family, others live too far away from a school and in wheelchairs would never manage to travel the distance, others have families who are too poor to support them. When possible, Yodifee also supports youth to remain with their families in their own villages - by providing financial or material support.

The high-school group living at Villa Maria when we volunteered there

Two of the high-school students
Nimul, the founder and director of Yodifee soon realised that equipping youth with education does not guarantee their employment and self-reliance. So he developed business support initiatives which trained youth with disabilitites in trades and professions, and then supported them to set up their own businesses.

One of the youth who was trained to repair televisions, and now has his own business.
Yodifee always aims to respond to whatever need is identified. Nimul explained to us that he had noted that many children in the rural area of Kampot had Cerebral Palsy and other disabilities, and he noted that there was no medical center near enough to support these families. He understood that some disabilities could be avoided if there was assisted childbirth and antenatal care, as well as access to immunisations.

With this in mind, he procurred a plot of land in Kampot and commenced planning to create a medical center. Alexandra White and others in Australia fund-raised to help make this building a reality. 

The beginning of structures
The beginnings of some building work
Nimul (third from left) and the others involved in developing this land
 When funds came in, more building continued, eventually resulting in the bones of a structure:

And finally, the medical center was completed. Here it stands in all its glory:

Amplify has endeavoured to continue supporting this center and the other work of Yodifee since this time. For example, Amplify has recently purchased a tuk-tuk to help students commute to school. Amplify maintains close interaction with Yodifee to try to support its needs. 

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