Did the photo I chose this time lead you to believe I was at the beach? Although Cambodia does have some beautiful southern coastline, I am not there, at least not now. I chose this photo, because someone recently reminded me of the starfish story. Do you know it? If not you should look it up and read it.
Basically, the moral is that every individual decision can have an impact. Maybe not on everything, but on something. I was reminded of the story again when I read this post by Weh, the founder of OIC Cambodia. OIC is a program that is working to bring speech therapy services to Cambodia, where virtually no services existed before their beginning.
We are so excited and honored to be discussing special education program collaboration alongside of this organization. They are a great example of how a small group of thoughtful and committed individuals can have a huge impact!
I have been spending a lot of time with our partners and am mainly getting around the city on a borrowed jee-kong (a bike). Don't worry, I brought my helmet from the US ;) I visited a private school yesterday with OIC, to observe and offer some collaboration and learned that if a family has a child with disabilities, they have the option to try to enroll in a private school. However, not only do they need to pay the private school tuition, but they are then also financially responsible for staffing whatever their child needs to be included in the class. And, here's the kicker... currently there are only a few private schools that will even allow this and the demand and families willing to pay exceeds the schools willing to help right now, even in the private international schools.
And you know, this doesn't even begin to consider the situation for families that live in poverty and could never afford this anyway. For the majority of families with children with disabilities, educational opportunities do not exist. Sure makes you think about the opportunities our US education system mandates for every child, doesn't it?
In other news, thank you again for all of the thoughts and prayers you're sending. It's hot, but so far my body is handling it quite well and I have been feeling healthy. I've established a good daily routine which involves drinking tons of water, using an amazing product known as cooling powder, and taking no less than 3 showers a day (keeping my thick hair wet is pretty crucial). A friend and I may take a break and head to a swimming pool Saturday, which sounds pretty much like heaven on earth right now to me!
Please focus current thoughts and prayers on my interactions and conversations with partners. The Cambodians involved in this work need to know how valued they are (many are adults with disabilities themselves) and how important this work is, because they do not hear this from their society and their work is so often overwhelming and heartbreaking.