boy riding a bicycle

NGO initiative helps Cambodians with speech disabilities

Sep 30, 2015

Many Cambodians with disabilities lack access to health care services. Ouk Ling, who suffers from cerebral palsy, is among them. Up until 2013, there were few NGOs that served this population. But now, Ling can overcome his problem with the appropriate care thanks to one organization’s help.

OIC Cambodia, whose name refers to the moment of understanding, “Oh! I see,” is advocating that policy makers should put disability issues on the national agenda while working to provide treatments for people like Ling. A project under a Cambodian NGO called Capacity Building for Disability Cooperation, OIC is the first local initiative that aims to establish speech therapy as a profession in Cambodia. OIC reports 600,000 Cambodians have a communication or swallowing disorder that limits their ability to communicate. OIC founder Weh Yeoh said “We’re talking about a large proportion of society – 4% of Cambodians who need basic health care in the form of speech therapy.”

In 2014 OIC launched a pilot program to provide speech therapy training. OIC child rehabilitation officer Chea Phearom participated in the training and said her new skills have already helped her assist parents and children suffering with these conditions. Over 100 children including Ling have already benefitted from speech therapy training.

USAID and internet service provider Ezecom are supporting civil society organizations like OIC by providing free access to a co-working space and technology resource center called the 5D Lab at Development Innovations. OIC, one of the civil society organizations working out of the Lab, has grown its staff and volunteer network to achieve their project activities over the past year.

“The Lab has also helped us form connections with media and video professionals, who have helped us to translate speech therapy – a very difficult topic to communicate – into something meaningful that people can understand and connect with,” said Yeoh.

First published in Development Innovations.