I. Life Story Sharing Forum of Persons with Disabilities

On August 21, 2015, Phnom Penh Center for Independent Living (PPCIL) conducted a forum on “Sharing Life Story of Persons with Disabilities”. There were 50 people participating in this special event. The main purpose of the forum is to share life experience and story between Cambodian people with severe disabilities led by the Executive Director of PPCIL and Japanese people with severe disabilities led by the President of Mainstream Association in Japan. There were many questions asked to each other between the two teams mainly related to the life story and issues that each member has confronted.

According to Ms. Bopha, the forum facilitator had expressed her warmest welcome to everyone who attending our event today and she also announced the agenda as the following:

  1. Registration
  2. Self-introduction
  3. Reveal the purpose of the forum and round table discussion
  4. Closing

To be more understanding each other, Ms. Bopha invited participant to make self-introduction one by one on their name and kind of their disabilities. The participants happily introduced themselves and some of them expressed their nervous felling or being forgetful as their disabilities.

After the self-introduction, Mr. Samith was invited to welcome and reveal the purpose of the forum. He said that, the purpose is to share the life story of PWDs on their hardness in families and the society around. He continued that, all what we get today we will send it to government and stakeholders.

Next activity, Mr. Samith invited the participants to share their lives experience as following:

Mr. KADOTA shared that he’s a founder of Mainstream Association, he create the program called Turning Point Program by chose 5 young people with disabilities as to learn from this training program to be a good young leaders in order to work for disability movement. The Turning Point Program is sending young people with disabilities to Nepal, Mongolia and Cambodia. Today is a great day for Cambodian and Japanese’s PWDs to exchange our experience.

A participant his name is Mr. Seng Heang has shared about his bitter life experience that he was abused as labor in one organization. He was creeping on the floor without any wheelchair and he always wounded by this. He got only US$30.00 (Thirty US Dollars) and someday he worked 24 hours. The question as the following was asked:

Q1. How is your new job?

Q2. If some PWDs want to work for your company, Is it hard for them to accomplish the work?

A1. His new job is easier, he works only 3 hours per day with his salary US$150.00 per month. For his toilet is a bit harder for him to access because it is no ramp.

A2. He is not sure about that, it up to the position.

Ms. Chan Sitha also happy to share the story of life with her disability and she said that, she got polio when she was 4 months old. When she was 10 years old her parents broken up so she decided to live with her relatives. During that time she sold Khmer noodle for her brother and sister to access school. Nowadays, she gets the vocational training at one organization called JCIA.

Q1. Do you satisfy with your disability?

Q2. Have you ever got any discrimination? What did you do to deal with that?

A1. She was not acceptable in the last few years, but now her feeling is better.

A2. Only 10 percent of discrimination, then she tries harder and harder to develop her ability to express that even she is disable but he has skill to make her living.

After Ms. Chan Sitha finished, Mr. Moga has shared his experience that he got CP start from he was born. He could not go to school because he cannot use his both hands and he had no job. He used to feel that his disability is his weakness but now it is different. He is happy with his disability “I am happy because my disability helps me to meet you all here and I can share what I feel and what I need to everyoneˮ.

Q1. Is there any discrimination with PWDs in Japan?

Q2. When you suggest the government or private sector to make barrier-free environment in public places and their business centers, what did you do?

A1. Yes exactly have, but we need to be brave to talk to people who discriminate with us. More importantly, Japan has the law for PWDs and we fight to make it real.

A2. We need to go to meet with all those institutions again and again and talk about barrier-free environment until they completely build.

Mr. Sano was invited by Ms. Bopha to share about his life. He said that, he got disability when he was 21 years old by traffic accident. Before he became disabled person he was like a gangster, he always fought with others. Now everything has changed even his life and his bad behavior.

Q1. You are not disable from you were born, so how did you feel when you was recently disabled?

Q2. Why did you decide to join with mainstream?

A1. Firstly, I felt really hard and I did not like my disability but my feeling became better when went to the outside and see some people who in severe disabled than I am.

A2. I applied to The Turning Point Program then I passed the interview, so I decided to work here.

Mr. Nheb, talked about his disability is spinal injured caused by traffic accident. He also stated his disability that he spent ten years on the bed; his family sold all the property for curing and treatment his sickness and he wanted to die. After he met with PPCIL, he doesn’t want to die anymore. He was provided personal assistant and peer counseling by PPCIL and now he works for PPCIL.

Q1. Besides working for PPCIL, what is your spare time?

Q2. What is your duty and responsible in your organization?

A1. – Meet with friend coffee shop

       – Sell magazine

A2. I discussed with my team work to look for the obstacle of PWDs, especially the lack of barrier-free environment. After we found out, we advocate to government and relevant institutions.

The Life Story Sharing Forum had finished at 5:30 PM with a fruitful result of the high commitment of the Japanese and Cambodian participants. They also committed to conduct another event related to PWDs for next year.


II. Advocacy campaign called mini-TRY under the topic “Barrier-free Environment”

On August 22, 2015, Phnom Penh Center for Independent Living (PPCIL) conducted half-day advocacy campaign called “Mini-TRY” under the topic “Barrier-free Environment” by divided 3 groups walking along the main roads to advocate and request all business owners to have enough facilities and accessibility for people with disabilities led by the Executive Director of PPCIL.

There were 50 people joining the campaign, including 6 members and personal assistants from Mainstream Association in Japan. The campaign was held for a whole morning to two districts in Phnom Penh such Porsenchey and Sensok districts, where are thought to be the prior places to have accessibility for people with disabilities. The campaign gave back a lot of results. Most of the department stores’ owners and the representatives of the shops received our request to have adequate facilities for people with disabilities. As a result, the Mini-TRY campaign gave hope to people with disabilities that they will have accessibility in the near future.


III. Community Field Visit

Among the two weeks studying in Cambodia on people with disabilities, Turning Point Program made a few visits to people with disabilities in various communities around Phnom Penh and Kandal province on August 23, 2015. The main purpose of the visit is to study about the real situation of persons with disabilities: their daily living and activities. Additionally, trainees of Turning Point Program wanted to learn about what those people with disabilities can do to support their living, what obstacles they have faced, how much education they have, and how Mainstream Association from Japan can help them. Furthermore, the members from Mainstream Association shared good life experience of themselves and the situation of people with disabilities in Japan to all people with disabilities they visited; also, they encouraged them to go out to see their friends in community to refresh their mind. Generally, Mainstream Association members want all of them to have better lives and to fully involve with the society.