When Weh Yeoh, founder of OIC Cambodia, came to Cambodia in 2012, he began working with CABDICO, a well-respected Cambodian organization helping people with disabilities. Over and over again, CABDICO staff told him they often saw serious communication and swallowing disabilities, which they did not have the speech therapy skills to treat.

Research and conversations with many organizations showed this was the norm. Though 1 in 25 Cambodians need access to speech therapy, most organizations didn’t know how to provide this service.

Learning of the lack of speech therapists, Weh was angry and confused. How could there be not a single speech therapist? Not one!

Weh’s anger turned to determination. He simply could not afford not to act. As a result, Weh started OIC in July 2013 as a project of CABDICO to address this gap in speech therapy services.

They decided to train Phearom, a Cambodian woman who works with CABDICO, in basic speech therapy techniques. As part of her training, Phearom would go out to Ling’s house and work with him. Not only that, Phearom encouraged the teachers at Ling’s school to be more patient with him.

All the hard work paid off. At the age of 12, Ling started going to school for the first time. Due to speech therapy, Ling also quickly became popular among his circle of peers.

Now, Ling is not just participating at school, he’s excelling. He is coming second in his class. From once living in isolation, unable to communicate with those around him, Ling now jokes that he has “too many friends”.