23 Jul EmbraceAbility’s 1st Birthday
On the 20th July EmbraceAbility celebrated its first birthday! As a small NGO with only a few volunteers running the whole organisation we have worked extremely hard to achieve our first milestone; launching the Community Outreach Programme.
Nothing in life is plain sailing and EmbraceAbility, like every NGO, has experienced its fair share of highs and lows this year. We have focused our efforts on fundraising, sponsorship, and research to ensure we can deliver the best services to children with disabilities and their families on Koh Dach Island, Cambodia.
EmbraceAbility was born from my experience working in Cambodia and Vietnam three years ago. Both of my positions overseas were disability focused projects. During this time I had the privilege of meeting the fortitudinous, fearless, graceful children with the most infectious smiles. Despite their days being filled with neglect, pain, social exclusion and negligible healthcare, every child I met carried themselves with dignity and courage – they are the true definition of a hero.
Along with my colleagues and friends, we battled to improve the living conditions of the children we worked with. Despite our efforts, some of the heroes in Cambodia and Vietnam have sadly passed away. Unfortunately, disability has not been acknowledged in international development and global health policy which has consequently left a huge hole in healthcare services in the developing world. This means that children with disabilities in developing countries don’t count and the consequences are severe.
At EmbraceAbility we want to fill the knowledge gap in healthcare services which have been missed in countless development policies. After years of research, interviews and spending time with the local community in Cambodia we have a simple, multifaceted approach which aims to tackle the gap in healthcare services whilst supporting the families we work with.
Our approach focuses on a few important areas which we believe will make an impact in the areas we work in:
- Family comes first: far too often I have seen children sent to institutions where staff are overstretched and untrained which leads to the neglect and abuse of children with disabilities. Parents are not informed about their children’s health, unable to afford visits and left unsupported. At EmbraceAbility we want to ensure families have the knowledge to care for their children and, most importantly, build a support network so families do not feel isolated.
- Therapy: we recognise that there is a skill gap in healthcare services in Cambodia. As part of the Community Outreach Programme we will train local therapists in occupational therapy.
- Community: we have been working with the local community for a number of years and I can’t wait to fulfil our promise to the local leaders and families on Koh Dach Island. EmbraceAbility is a community-led project and we will be working together as a team to tackle discrimination and stigma on Koh Dach Island so persons with disabilities have equal opportunities.
In the upcoming year, we will be providing therapy, training and support to children with disabilities and their families on Koh Dach Island. Amara, the Project Coordinator will be leading the efforts on the ground and without her local knowledge, skills and wealth of experience, we would truly be lost. EmbraceAbility is lucky to have such a hardworking and determined team.
In 2019 we are hoping to secure enough funding to open one of the first daycare centres for children with disabilities aged 3-7 which will provide sensory therapy, occupational and physiotherapy and providing education. If we succeed in meeting our funding target we will be able to provide a key service for children with disabilities and provide an opportunity for parents to raise their household income.
EmbraceAbility runs on passion, hard work and a team who are dedicated to changing disability in the developing world. However, to meet our pledge to the local community we need donations, fundraisers and ambassadors for change. We want to create an environment of giving for social change, not from pity, but because you truly believe that all these heroes deserve the right to health care, education and social participation.
by Jodie Le Marrec