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
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."