Sipar Books launched the second edition of its “Special Children Series” in Phnom Penh on Tuesday with four books under the disability theme and based on the true stories of four children. The books aim to educate people to accept those who are differently abled to get equal access to education.
Sipar director Hok Sothik said at the launch: “The books are about the true stories of four disabled children. We tried to relate the stories in a happy manner, disregarding the hardships of being disabled. They were born that way, it’s not their fault.
“We want all people to accept their disabilities in a general sense and help [disabled people] gain access to education just like ‘normal’ people,” he said.
The books feature the real-life stories of Kimlang, Leaksmee, Tina and Vinith, four children with different physical impairments.
According to Sothik, 300 copies of each story have been published and the books have been distributed to 300 primary schools in all provinces across the country as well as to libraries in factories, paediatric hospitals and prisons.
“We want to accurately depict the lives of these children. They have a different livelihood to ours. In some ways, they cannot behave like us, but they can do some things we can’t do."
“People with disabilities are like this. Maybe they cannot walk and that is their difficulty. But they have other skills which evolve differently from normal people,” Sothik said.
He said in understanding disability, Sipar’s message is “with or without disabilities, all children have the same right to education”.
One of the four books is entitled Leaksmee Can Run and Jump. It tells the tale of a girl named Leaksmee who is 14 and likes to play with her little sisters and friends at school. She wants to become a fashion designer in the future.
The book won an “outstanding book” award from the Switzerland-based International Board on Books for Young People.
Kimlang is blind, but . . . chronicles the life of 13-year-old Kimlang who goes to school and likes to spend time with her friends. She wants to become an English teacher when she grows up.
In 2000, Sipar established its publishing programme to promote educational and fictional books in the Khmer language so as to help children on their path toward knowledge and with a view to making reading entertaining.
Sipar is a French NGO formed in 1982 to welcome Cambodian refugees in France. Aiming to develop reading and fight against illiteracy, the association has been working for 26 years in all the Kingdom’s regions with the objective of ensuring books are an educational lever and making them accessible to the most underprivileged populations.