In September 2015, Team Cambodia 2015 (in photo from left to right– Lauren, Sam, Shona, Zoe, Kim and Kristin) will be travelling to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to volunteer for three months as Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) on behalf of the City Cambodia Project. The City Cambodia Project is a charitable project that sends SLT graduates from City University out every year to provide SLT training and support to the people of Cambodia.
Why are we doing it?
The recent history of Cambodia is well known; its recovery from those events is ongoing. Health care remains poor for most of the population and it is estimated that over 600,000 people in Cambodia are in need of Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) services. Though individual SLTs and organizations are working towards greater provision of services in Cambodia and other developing countries, the need remains overwhelming. There is no SLT training in Cambodia and awareness of the role it can play is lacking. Education for most of the population is rudimentary, but for those with disabilities it is largely non-existent. Due to cultural and religious differences, the attitudes towards disability in Cambodia are far worse than in the UK, where inclusion of children with disabilities has gradually been rising over the years. The Cambodia Project is now in its eighth year and has been influential in raising awareness of the need for SLT in Cambodia.
What will the work involve?
The 6 of us will be in pairs, spread across three different settings, involving travel to many different sites across Phnom Penh.
1) Cleft lip and palate setting
Kristin and Lauren will be working alongside a team of specialist medical professionals across four hospitals in Phnom Penh to provide specialist services to children with cleft lip and palate and their families. They will be seeing the children both before and after they have surgery and giving advice to parents through translators who we also train to carry on the work when we cannot be there. Operations in Cambodia are often later than would be the case in the UK and the children can have lasting speech problems and difficulties with feeding.
2) Orphanage and schools setting
Sam and Shona will be working with children with a wide range of disabilities in an international school, a special needs school and an orphanage. The work here is divided between helping individual children and training teachers, carers and parents and raising awareness of disability in general, and of children with communication difficulties. In the orphanage there is a major need for advice and support with caring for children with cerebral palsy and other physical/learning disabilities, whose problems with swallowing have led to severe malnutrition.
3) Mental Health hospital setting
Kim and Zoe will be based at the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Hospital in Phnom Penh which is an outpatient hospital for children with mental health difficulties and other disabilities from all over Cambodia. The work here will involve preparing and delivering training to parents and staff, modelling 1:1 assessment and therapy, creating specialised assessments and resources and working alongside a team of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, specialist teachers and psychologists.
SO HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Funds from City University are limited. The money you help us raise as a team will go towards:
- Specialised resources, including: feeding equipment, toys which facilitate communication, and other therapy materials
- Travel to and from the sites we are working at
- Accommodation and living expenses
** As UK-trained SLTs, the expertise we can bring to this impoverished country can make an invaluable difference. We would be delighted for any pennies you can spare to support us – however small. EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS! Thank you 🙂 **
To donate, please follow this link to our JustGiving page
For more information about the work of Speech and Language Therapists generally, please see this fact sheet provided by the Royal College of SLTs
Thanks for your support,
The Cambodia Team
(This post was written in collaboration with Team Cambodia!)