Deaf Week


The activity for Friday of Deaf Week was making shirts with handprints, signatures, greetings, etc. Here Julie Lawler and I sign the shirts of two students

After making the shirts, the students saw some sign language videos, had some chocolate to drink, and then played some games.

Deaf Week

This Tuesday of Deaf Week had a coffee theme, and members of a delegation from the Embassy of the Czech Republic and the Agile NGO were invited to share coffee with the deaf students.
The theme for Wednesday of Deaf Week was khramas, the cotton scarf used by everyone in any fashion or way that suits your needs.
I had to get help to tie a khrama around my head somewhat artfully!

Kirirom Retreat / Sunday

Every year each MKLM group plans a retreat for its members. This year MKLM Cambodia arranged a retreat at a center at Kirirom National Park, a beautiful setting with hills (unusual in Cambodia) and trees.

Because I had the Sunday morning mass with the English Catholic Community, we left Phnom Penh at 2:00 PM for the 2 1/2 hour drive to Kirirom. Here Kylene and Julie, who made most of the arrangements, check in at the center which was quite nice.
Because of our late afternoon arrival, we planned no activities but just walked around to explore the center which had a real variety of activities and settings to investigate. First we located the restaurant, next to a pool, where we would eat all our meals.
Our rooms were in this building which is set in formal garden which would not be out of place in a European palace setting.
The center has a variety of accommodations, from tents and tree houses to hotel rooms and cabins like this one with its own kiosk on the lake’s edge.

Deaf Week


Every year deaf people around the world celebrate Deaf Week to inform people about their deaf culture and to encourage the inclusion of deaf people into the societies and communities where they live.

This year a major change for our Deaf Day was moving to a new venue, a Salesian Sisters school in Phnom Penh. We were afraid it might seem far away for members of the deaf community but it turned out to be an ideal location.
Another change this year was having the big Deaf Day celebration on the Sunday at the beginning of Deaf Week instead of at the end of the week. The morning saw an opening talk and the a story-telling activity. Then it was time for lunch which was prepared by the hearing students in the hotel hospitality training program at the school.
After lunch there were some games pitting teams against each other. The games are always a most enjoyable time for these gatherings.
Then it was time for the major activity of the day, a food-tasting event. Volunteers from the English Catholic Community prepared foods from their home countries to give the deaf people a taste and a glimpse of different cultures from around the world.
Deaf people experience tremendous isolation. Hearing people tend to avoid them because they don’t know to communicate with deaf people, and so when we have a large gathering like this a major attraction is just catching up with old friends and chatting in sign language.
We also have a Deaf Day celebration in Kampong Cham Province but this year we also invited a group from Kampong Cham to participate with us in Phnom Penh.

Embassy Visit to DDP

The Maryknoll Deaf Development Programme has had a partnership with People in Need, focusing on employment projects. People in Need introduced DDP to Agile, another Cambodian NGO, and to the embassy of the Czech Republic with whom they worked. Last week a delegation from People in Need, Agile, and the Czech Republic Embassy came to visit DDP.

First the visitors met with the DDP management team and Charlie Dittmeier explained DDP’s vision and projects. That day was “coffee day” for DDP’s celebration of Deaf Week, so our visitors got to mingle with our deaf students enjoying coffee that day.
It was a good experience for both the visitors from the embassy and for our deaf students who don’t get much opportunity to interact with hearing people. Such an exchange helps to develop their identity as people worth knowing and with something to offer. Here students help the visitors prepare their coffee.
A second stop on their visit was at the DDP barbershop which is already benefiting from a small grant offered by the Czech Embassy in cooperation with the Agile NGO.

Wooden Buddha

Plastic statues of Jesus on a car dashboard are part of American highway culture (and also American country music). Inspired by a country singer or his Buddhist beliefs, this tuk-tuk driver has a rather large wooden Buddhist statue on his tuk-tuk dash.

Interpreter Graduation

Today we had a graduation ceremony for the first batch of Cambodia Sign Language interpreters to be trained after the formation of the National Institute of Special Education.

Hang Kimchhorn, the director of the National Institute of Special Education, presented the certificates to the new interpreters who are greatly needed for more progress in integrating deaf people into Cambodian society.
The interpreter trainers are all former interpreters for the Deaf Development Programme, and three of the graduates today are current staff members at DDP.

Asian Deaf Catholic Conference 7

The morning of the last full day at the Samadi retreat center, I presided at the morning mass.

Before the mass began, I explained that I would be using American Sign Language.
The gospel was about Jesus healing a man with a paralyzed hand and four deaf people, from Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Hong Kong, helped act it out.
Role playing, as in the gospel reading, is a common part of deaf culture.
Two deaf people from Sri Lanka brought forward the bread and wine we used for the celebration of the eucharist.