This month, DDP welcomed two new volunteers. Joseph and Laura are both students at Macquerie University in Australia and will be serving with DDP for two months. Below are excerpts from Laura about their first days at DDP. Welcome Laura and Joseph…
Joseph and I are from Sydney, Australia and are currently working with the Deaf Development Programme as part of Macquarie University’s PACE volunteer program. In my short time spent at the DDP office I have been fortunate to meet some extraordinary people and gain an understanding about the type of work the organization is doing to help the Cambodian Deaf community.
Prior to the initiation of the Deaf Development Program, the Cambodian Deaf community were a sector of society that had been largely ignored. Sadly, many deaf Cambodians are marginalised and neglected by society and in some cases by their family. In the office, Deaf staff members are working together to develop Cambodia’s first sign language. Students then come from all around Cambodia to learn how to sign and be educated. Without a language, deaf people have limited means of communication, accessing only limited gestures. This inability to express oneself would undoubtedly cause immense distress and feelings of isolation. Therefore, the development of a national sign language is of crucial importance.
A wonderful initiative of the Deaf Development Program is their recruitment of students from remote provinces. In the provinces the students would have very limited, if any, access to education. The organization also places emphasis on job training in areas such as motorcycle repair, sewing and hairdressing. This provides students with an opportunity to be self sufficient in the long term.
I left the office in awe. I felt a combination of completely inspired and at the same time a bit incompetent compared to the people that I would be working with. As part of our project, we have been asked to film interviews with a number of the deaf staff members from DDP. I am very much looking forward to hearing their stories and hopefully being able to then share those stories with others. Whilst this is only the beginning of my journey, I will no doubt be returning home with many tales to share with my family and friends as well as a high level of admiration for the members of staff at the Deaf Development Programme. I look forward to working in such an optimistic and enthusiastic environment for the next 6 weeks.