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New Rehab Center

The A.A.R. Cambodian Committee, a Japanese-funded NGO, recently opened a vocational

training center for disabled people at Kien Khleang.

The center's first class of 45 students has begun a nine-month course that will teach

them skills in leather and rattan work as well as wheel chair mechanics. The program

also includes lessons in Khmer literature, arithmetic, geometry and ethics. The instruction

is being undertaken by two Japanese-trained Cambodian engineers.

The first students, who came from all over the country, are mostly young men in their

twenties who lost legs after stepping on land mines in addition to a small number

of polio victims. The 45 were chosen from a group of 172 applicants based on their

willingness to study, their disability and family situation.

An A.A.R. CC official said the aim of the course was to give disabled people dignity

and enable them to make the best use of their capabilities. Upon graduation, the

NGO will provide the students with tools to help them get a start in their new life.

Chhan Than, deputy minister of Labor and Social Action, who was present at the inauguration

of the center, hailed the program as a "great plan which could help handicapped

Cambodians."

One wheel chair-bound man in the audience commented the government should do more

to help the disabled.

"We are here struggling with our lives. It is difficult to find work in society,

and we don't have any money to set up business," he said.

Than vowed the "new government would not ignore the handicapped and would work

to make them a productive part of the community."

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