While her classmates write with their hands, Duk Chhavy, 14, is not as fortunate as her peers and relies only on two feet in daily activities such as studying.
Sareun, Chhavy’s mother, recalls the harsh judgement that surrounded Chhavy’s birth.
“My neighbours told me it’d be better to let Chhavy die,” she said.
Sareun said that before Chavvy turned a year old, she and her husband separated as they were unable to come to terms with her handicap.
But Sareun was determined.
“I could not let my daughter die,” she said. “I will do everything to help her.”
Sareun’s relatives give her physical and moral help, and Chhavy gets help from her mother and her relatives, who have never thought of sending Chhavy to school and be with other kids.
At first, Chhavy’s classmates teased her with names like “crippled girl” and avoided playing with her. Even teachers of Svaysor Primary did not believe that she was able to hold a pen and fit into their class.
However, with her perseverance and with the support from Save the Children Norway , Chavvy was able to study at Svaysor Primary.
Save the Children Norway is jointly managed by a Battambang-based organisation to support children with disabilities by providing home-based care, informal education, skill training and other forms of rehabilitation. A social worker educated her communities about her condition and worked at reducing discrimination. Besides the advocacy support, Chhavy’s mother also received donations to start a home business. Chhavy has achieved remarkable grades that are comparable to her peers, and she dreams of taking dance and singing lessons and having access to libraries. She is preparing for entry into high school next year. “Chhavy has never asked people to raise her up when she falls, the only thing she can’t do is to clothe herself,”her mother said.