PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – Disabilities are a human rights issue. We can see people with a physical disability, in wheelchairs, with canes and other devices. However some disabilities can be invisible to the human eye. These are cognitive or developmental, sensory and emotional and can also be a combination of all of these.
It is estimated that about 15 percent of the world’s population have some form of a disability. Many people with disabilities are capable or leading full and productive lives.
How disabilities occur
Some disabilities occur at birth, while others are the result of sudden illness or some type of injury. While some disabilities are temporary, many are lifelong and this immediately impacts on the person and their family.
Dealing with disabilities
People with disabilities often have poorer health outcomes, little or no education and a higher rate of poverty. This has an incredible impact on their emotional, financial and social wellbeing.
With the right help and assistance many people can once again live healthy and happy lives. Many people will struggle to know where to begin again and sometimes it is the small simple things that can make a difference to their lives.
Being disabled in Cambodia
In terms of the human rights index, Cambodia ranks about 138th out of 177 countries. Being disabled in any country is difficult and Cambodia has more than its fair share of hardships and struggles.
One organization trying to make a difference in Phnom Penh is Action Cambodge Handicap (ACH). This small non-governmental organization (NGO) focuses on providing mentally disabled adults with a community or family where they can live, learn and work.
Realizing the difficulty in gaining employment for these young people once they became adults, ACH set up a jam factory which gives employment and a chance to learn skills and become more independent.
What we can do to help
While some people may have childlike movements, they may have an incredibly clever adult mind.
Do not treat people who have a disability differently. Some people are very proud and will not easily ask for help. Ask if they need any kind of assistance and what in particular that they need. Encouragement to do as much as possible will help them to become independent. Potential employers can enquire what, if any, special needs they have relating to work spaces, or audio or visual equipment.
Tips on living with a disability
Organization is very important and a way to maintain some control over your life. Get help with the things you cannot do and make lists for family members so they can assist you.
Keep fit, exercise as often as possible and don’t be ashamed if you exercise differently to everyone else. If you can manage to exercise at all you are a winner!
Be polite but strong, some people do not know how to react or what to say when dealing with a person that has special needs. Demand respect but make jokes if you know someone is not sure how to help.
Give yourself time to grieve and seek support from a therapist if you are overwhelmed.
Just like everyone else you can’t be happy all the time
Accept your disability; you are brave because you live with a challenge every day.
Get a hobby or do something that brings you satisfaction and enjoyment.