Organisers hope to show that the Kingdom's disabled are an integral
part of modern society as government officials say that the number of
those suffering afflictions is rising
A dancer at Wednesday's celebrations to mark the International Day of Disabled People.
GOVERNMENT officials highlighted the plight of the more than half-million Cambodians living with a disability Wednesday, saying the Kingdom would not turn its back of these people as it marked the 16th annual International Day of Disabled People.
"We have never forgotten disabled people," said Ith Sam Heng, minister of social affairs.
He added that the CPP-led government had renewed its commitment to promoting the rights of disabled people in Cambodian society.
Ith Sam Heng said that years of war had left almost two percent of Cambodian people disabled. But even after a decade of peace, the percentage of the population afflicted by a disability was still rising.
"The increase is due to the dangers of land mines, traffic accidents, work hazards, diseases, malnutrition, natural born disabilities and those brought on by old age," he said.
Keo Borein, director of the ministry's Technical Department, said that the celebrations on Wednesday aimed to give Cambodians a better understanding of disability.
"Since 1994, [the Ministry and its partners] have trained 117 people in the techniques of producing artificial legs and splints, and currently we have 10 centres for vocational training," he said. "From 1987 to 2008, we have trained 12,924 disabled people, and 6,878 of them are now employed."
Living with disability
Sun Try, a 20-year-old music player in the Krousar Thmey organisation - which works with disabled youth - said that he became blind at the age of four because of measles.
"When I became blind I lost confidence in my life and felt hopeless because I would never see anything," he said.
"I wanted to be a doctor and I tried to study hard in order to succeed, but everything had gone and my friends and neighbours looked down on me," he said.
"After I learned music at Krousar Thmey, I felt that my life had light because I met new friends who are the same as me," he said.
Kouch Srey, also 20 years old, said she has had withered legs since she was young because of polio and used to feel disappointed in herself.
"Of course, I was angry at myself because my friends stopped talking to me," she said. "But now I am happy and don't feel disappointed anymore because I am not the only one who is handicapped - there are also my friends. If they can live, so can I."