Through all of our initiatives, we can improve the lives and opportunities of persons with disabilities, and the communities they belong to, for a bright and cohesive future.
Embrace Ability is a not-for-profit charitable organisation dedicated to improving the lives of disabled children and their families in Cambodia.
EmbraceAbility was established in 2017, after founder Jodie Le Marrec worked in disability centres throughout South East Asia. Her experience in Cambodia inspired her to improve disability care for children and families. Her first step in achieving this goal was the creation of a blog called developmentanddisability.blogspot.com, a tool with which she could raise awareness of the many issues facing persons with disabilities in Cambodia and worldwide. As her knowledge of Cambodia and disability issues grew, Jodie was repeatedly shocked and astonished that international development had not included persons with disabilities in development programmes.
This elucidated her experience working in disability centres. Rehabilitation services were lacking experienced and trained staff, families were continually stuck in incessant cycles of poverty, and families remained isolated from the local community. During a field visit to Tboung Khum and Koh Dach island, Jodie visited children with disabilities who had no access to rehabilitation services or education. It was clear that action was needed.
Although official figures are difficult to obtain, a report published by Sida in 2015 estimates that Cambodia has one of the highest disability rates in the developing world. Poverty and disability are inextricably linked; statistically families with a disabled family member are more likely to be poorer than their non-disabled peers. Most families in Cambodia have limited access to healthcare, and rehabilitation centres are few and far between.
EmbraceAbility provides free daycare services for families, giving each child access to rehabilitation services and education. Where possible, any child who is able will be integrated into state school education. Free daycare services allow family members to go to work and increase the household wage, improving the quality of life for the whole family.
The services do not end there – the foundation also runs community based support groups for family members and the local community. Throughout Jodie’s experience working in Asia, she felt that the primary carers and family members are often neglected in the rehabilitation process. Every month the foundation will run workshops for the family to talk about their experiences, working together as a community to ensure each person is valued equally.
This unique approach aims to improve the quality of life for children with disabilities and their families.
EmbraceAbility has four unique points of difference that will ensure that it continues to distinguish itself in the saturated marketplace of Cambodian NGOs and DPOs.
Unique project management approach: EmbraceAbility has a unique model of sustainable development. The organisation will ensure all projects are well researched through a mixed methodology of qualitative and quantitative research methods. The main policy will be ‘review, respond and adapt’ to ensure the organisation is meeting the needs of the local community.
Establishing local community links: EmbraceAbility recognises the importance of establishing good links with the local community in order to develop a sustainable and successful development strategy. The organisation will use its ties with the local NGO Khemara to establish and maintain ties across a range of stakeholders, in particular, local authorities and commune chiefs. This enables the organisation to bring together important influencers such as community leaders, government authorities and healthcare officials to discuss often conflicting viewpoints, with the aim of delivering improved circumstances for the organisation’s beneficiaries. By establishing strong community links, EmbraceAbility can ensure sustainable development through an integrated approach that will provide the best possible outcome for all stakeholders.
Diversity of projects: due to the extensive knowledge gained from research and time spent working with the local population and disability centres in Cambodia, EmbraceAbility has a unique understanding of the challenges faced by Cambodia’s disabled population. By working with the local community and coordinating with local authorities, the organisation will be able to operate a diverse range of projects that respond to the needs of its communities and beneficiaries. The ability to adapt programmes to different target groups and the needs of the community are evidenced by extensive research and programmes which respond to the current needs of the local community. With an innovative and dynamic approach to development, the team is able to adapt its core skills and abilities to a variety of programmes that target children with disabilities and their families in a responsive and cost-effective manner. EmbraceAbility’s focus on continual development ensures all programmes are up-scalable and can be delivered in other provinces.
‘Green’ finance policy: EmbraceAbility upholds a ‘green’ finance policy. EmbraceAbility believes that to achieve equity and social justice, donations made by private investors, corporations, charitable foundations and grant-making institutions must meet the requirements of EmbraceAbility’s financial policy.
Jodie’s vision for EmbraceAbility was inspired by her experiences working in disability centres across Cambodia and Viet Nam. She has a Masters Degree (MA) in Global Political Economy from the University of Sussex. Jodie is passionate about international development, and seeks to bring a new, more sustainable approach to development strategy.
Oliver was drawn to the issue of disability rights in Cambodia following his work in Phnom Penh in 2015. He has a Masters Degree (LLM) in International and European Human Rights Law from the University of Leeds. Oliver is a committed human rights advocate, with a particular interest in disability rights, refugee law, and blasphemy law.