Disability Development Services Program is a Cambodian Non-Government Organisation launched in January 2003. It is one of the few Cambodian organisations in the country providing services to disabled people, and is based in Pursat, a poor rural province in central Cambodia. Its objectives are to enable disabled people to access services to improve their quality of life, to raise awareness among communities about disabled people’s rights and opportunities, and to help other service providers in Pursat to include disabled people in their activities.
The population of the Province is about 400,000 and about 18,900 people have disabilities. These are caused mostly by landmine accidents, work accidents, diseases such as polio and cerebral palsy and birth defects. DDSP provide practical help to these people, nearly all of whom live in poverty, in the rural areas. They provide latrines, wheelchairs, wells and fresh water filters, as well as giving practical and emotional support and advice. DDSP also try to set the people up in small businesses, in order to support themselves and their families. They have provided start-up loans, as well as chickens, pigs, cows and buffalo for some of their clients.
MSAVLC funding supports their Paraplegic and Quadriplegic Rehabilitation Project (PQR Project), one of four projects which DDSP is running at present. This project focuses on four main areas.
- Basic Needs – disabled people’s health, hygiene, nutrition, housing and emergency needs.
- Rehabilitation Needs – e.g. Home-based therapy and rehabilitation equipment, and referral to rehabilitation services outside the community.
- Social Needs – Psycho-social counselling, confidence and empowerment, education and vocational training.
- Economic Needs – Access to micro-credit and capital for income generation.
MSAVLC have supported this project since 2010 and Trustees have visited DDSP headquarters on three occasions to talk to the Director, Pheng Samnang, evaluate the project and undertake field visits to some of its clients. DDSP is controlled by a Board of Directors and they have a total of 12 full-time staff.
DDSP face many difficulties, the major one being funding, but the area is difficult to work in and the patients are spread far and wide. Some are way out in the countryside and very difficult to reach. Rural roads are so poor that motorcycle is the only practical form of transport to the furthest clients, and usually two DDSP staff share one motorcycle for what may be a four or five-hour journey.
The Project has now been extended to include the District of Veal Veng, which makes up almost 40% of the Province but is very remote from Pursat Town. The PQR Project provides direct services to almost 100 disabled patients, with 390 indirect beneficiaries. The organisation is efficiently run by an enthusiastic and caring staff, and if funding can be obtained MSAVLC hopes to continue their support into the future.
During the Trustees visits to DDSP they were able to visit a number of clients in their homes to evaluate their care. The first was to Mr. Aout Sao.“To reach his home we had to travel way out into the countryside, along a bumpy dirt track, passing barren fields, buffalo, cows and cricket traps on the way. Sao was a 35 year-old man who had fallen out of a tree five years ago and become paralysed. He had only the slight use of one arm. He was married with two children of five and eight years old. When he had fallen from the tree, he had landed in mud and it was 20 hours before he was found. He told us that he was very frightened, and scared that he would be attacked by wild animals. He now has a small shop, along a dusty path which leads to other villages across the fields. He sells a few groceries and produce that his wife buys from the market. Life is very hard for him, but he was a lovely man with a sense of humour. He had a wheelchair that had been adapted to lean back for him to lie out on. The seat was made of plastic, and although it was padded, it must have been very hot and it was beginning to wear out. DDSP send a physiotherapist to see him each month, and have provided a water filter, chickens, a buffalo and a pig for him to farm. He lives in the shop next door to his parents, but he has his own small plot of land across the field, and he would like to move there to live. If he does, there is the possibility that he may be able to have a well and be provided with a latrine. Obviously these things would make a tremendous difference to him. However, Sao and his family work very hard, and make most of their money from passing trade at harvest time. This, of course, has to last throughout the year. His wife and son went off to fetch their buffalo to show us, and brought her back along the dusty track tethered with a rope through her nose. They hope to breed from her next year. They are a courageous family, and we are thankful that we are able to help families such as these through your generous donations.”
The Trustees also visited Miss Rin Key.“Rin Key is a charming 33 year-old lady who is paraplegic, and during our visit to Pursat this year we were able to visit her in her home. We were taken there by Pheng Samnang, the Director of Disability Development Services Program in Pursat, and Tep Buntha, the senior physiotherapist. MSAVLC funding supports their Paraplegic and Quadriplegic Rehabilitation Project. We drove a long way out into the countryside along bumpy tracks, through dry and barren land to reach her home, a house on stilts made from wood and corrugated iron. Rin Key had been hit by ricochet from gunfire between the Khmer Rouge and Government forces in 1993, when she was just 13 years old! She has had very little schooling and life has been very difficult for her; but now DDSP has been able to help her, providing her with a wheelchair, a well to obtain water, a water filter, and just, recently a latrine. The latter was a western type toilet with rails all around the chamber making it easy for her to use. It had running water and a mandi. There was a plaque above the latrine accrediting it to MSAVLC. Rin Key’s brother was also slightly disabled as he had suffered from polio. There were ten in the family, and about 40 families lived in and around them in the countryside. They were all allowed to use the well, so it was of benefit to the whole community, and her neighbours offered support and friendship. Rin Key had also been supplied with about 15 chickens to help support the family. We asked how much they cost and were told 15,000 riel for 1.2 Kg of chicken! We had assumed that they would be sold per chicken not by weight! I told them that my daughter kept chickens and they all roared with laughter when I said she had two, and asked why only two?”
Other clients that the Trustees were able to visit included victims of landmines, accidents and polio, and they had been set up in businesses such as barbers, chicken farmers, rush weavers, shop keepers and cow breeders.
Families supported by DDSP
2015 – UPDATE
Since the Trustees’ last visit in 2013, DDSP have expanded their work area and now have 19 staff to cover the workload. The Trustees visited the offices and were able to examine in full the accounts relevant to MSAVLC funding. They were then given a PowerPoint presentation of the work that they do, which included home visits, attendance at day centres, provision of water and sanitation, sports days and business start-up loans. For the future they hope to maintain all their existing projects, extend their projects, try to achieve early intervention and establish an orphanage and a hand craft project. Very ambitious aims, but ones which we are sure they will achieve, if funding is available.
Over the next two days the Trustees visited 12 of DDSP’s clients in their homes and saw the help that had been given to them. The clients’ injuries were sustained through various illnesses and accidents, including polio, tuberculosis, falling from trees, car and motorbike accidents and from landmines.
The clients had been set up in businesses including a village shop, a barbers, pig, chicken, and buffalo farming, and sewing. Latrines, water filters and pumps, mosquito nets, physiotherapy and counselling had been provided. MSAVLC have agreed to continue funding this excellent work.