A speech therapy advocacy group has issued a call to action, asking Cambodians to share 20 stories of people who are silenced by communication disabilities.
The scheme – Oh! I See (OIC): The Cambodia Project – is dedicated to the plight of the estimated 600,000 Cambodians who are barred from education, jobs and a role in their communities because of a communication or swallowing disability.
Though landmine and UXO injuries receive more attention, 10 times more Cambodians live with speech or swallowing impediments, the group says.
Weh Yeoh, OIC’s founder, notes that Cambodia has yet to train a single therapist, while the United States, by comparison, has 130,000 practitioners. “Statistics alone are not enough to change the discourse,” he said. “That’s why storytelling is important.”
OIC hopes to raise $28,000 via an online crowdfunding campaign to bring stories of disability to the United Nations and the Cambodian government in the coming months to appeal for a university-level speech-therapy program.
Yeoh also hopes to encourage better health care provision through education. “I would like to a see a Cambodia where we are able to provide basic health care for all the people who need it,” he said.