Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Amputees set sail

Amputees set sail

Amputees set sail

V ETERAN aid worker Ron Podlaski's new project - Mekong River Tours - is something out of the ordinary.

Podlaski's idea is to staff a pleasure cruiser with amputees - to prove they can become integrated into society.

Tit Sari, who lost both legs in a mine blast, is currently receiving the training necessary to qualify as the boat's captain.

He says: "After spending years in rehabilitation my wife and children are delighted to have a bread winner in the family again, they now have hope of a more secure future."

The boat's host and hostess are both amputees: Hy and Chea Sopheap.

So Thun, a 15-year-old orphan, is in charge of engine maintenance and also the ship's cabin boy, and the boat's female cook Meas Sarim is raising a family on her own.

Half the eight crew have limbs missing, but this is no handicap to the smooth running of the boat, according to one passenger who said: "I did not notice any of the crew were amputees until it was pointed to me."

Podlaski, the founder of the Indochina Project, says, "After spending years involved in fitting prosthetics I felt it was time to move to the next stage and help the amputees become self-sufficient.

"There is a great need to help with employment here, especially for those that are handicapped.

"In Cambodia growth is in service industries. So I decided we should prove that we can provide as good a service as anyone else can.

"I think our project will capture peoples' imagination and attract them to meet the Cambodian people and share their hospitality."

Podlaski says the 23-meter boat can comfortably fit 40 people, and he is happy to tailor a trip to the needs of his customers (Tel/Fax: 64314).

He says to hire the boat for a half day [5 hours] would cost $200, or $300 for a full day [10 hours], which includes meals.

Podlaski has invested $15,000 in the project and he is working out the details of what he hopes to be a profit sharing operation with the crew members.

MOST VIEWED

  • Diplomatic passports issued to foreigners to be annulled

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation will move to annul diplomatic passports issued to those not born in Cambodia. Analysts say the move may be in relation to reports that former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra used a Cambodian passport to register as

  • Hun Sen warns Irish MP of EBA ‘mistake’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday told former Irish premier Enda Kenny, still a member of the EU nation’s parliament, that the 28-nation bloc should not make a “third mistake” regarding Cambodia by using the preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement to “take 16 million

  • The hairy little heroes saving many lives in rural Cambodia

    IN RURAL Siem Reap province, rats dare to tread where no person will, as these hairy little heroes place their lives on the line each day for the good of the local community. The rodents are the most important members of a special team, leading

  • PM warns EU and opposition on 34th anniversary of his rule

    HUN Sen reached the milestone of 34 years as Cambodian prime minister on Monday and used the groundbreaking ceremony for a new ring road around Phnom Penh to tell the international community that putting sanctions on the Kingdom meant killing the opposition. “Please don’t forget