NGOs training thousands of disabled Cambodians are widely acknowledged as doing
a great job - except there is no single retail outlet selling the craftwork that
the disabled people are making.
There are a few exceptions. For instance,
Maryknoll's Wat Than skill training center has a small retail shop; Rehab Craft
Cambodia sells fine leatherware from its factory on St. 302; and the Khemara
Women's Project has a retail outlet above its tree-shaded coffee and breakfast
shop on St. 302.
However, there is an increasing abberation as NGOs train
disabled people in handicrafts, who then return to their villages will little
chance of having their produce sold.
Colin Lillington of the National
Center for Disabled Persons (NCDP) is trying to correct this by opening an
$8,000 shop along Norodom Blvd., selling craftwork made only by disabled
The plan is to have the shop included in every organized tourist
package. It is intended as a temporary measure while a $500,000 NCDP-organized
community center, with library, meeting rooms, resource center and shop front is
built - but that will take five years.
Lillington asked for donations
from local businesses for the small shop - and got virtually
"Once we get the $8,000 we can open the doors in a matter of
weeks," Lillington said.
"We've asked a few funding agencies and we've
been able to raise $3,000. But for the rest we made an appeal to local
businesses, but while they said it was a good idea I would have hoped for a
better response, especially since we only wanted about $100 or $200 from each,"
NCDP has the support of virtually all NGOs training the
disabled, including those mentioned above, and Association to Aid Refugees,
Jesuit Relief, VVAF, Bantrey Back Center, Pursat-based CARE and Cambodian War
Amputees Rehab Center, International Catholic Migration and World Vision both in
Battambang, and United Cambodian Community in Kampot.
Donations to the
NCDP retail center can be made c/o Voluntary Service Overseas, PO Box 912, Phnom
Meanwhile, a Japanese wheelchair basketball team held an exhibition
at Olympic Stadium on August 24. Organized by the Cambodian Handisport
Federation and the Cambodian Disabled People's Organization, the Japanese team
held a demonstration in the morning and trained with wheelchair-bound Cambodian
players for three hours in the afternoon.