Cambodia now is celebrating a two-week Pchum Ben festival, the Khmer equivalent of All Souls Day in western Christian cultures. During this time the Cambodian people pay special attention and respect to their deceased ancestors. Next Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are the three public holidays associated with Pchum Ben, but today was the last day of class for our students who must travel to the provinces to be with their families. We allow them to go early because the transportation companies all raise their prices tremendously starting the two or three days before the public holiday. To celebrate the festival at DDP, the students cooked a traditional Khmer meal at school and invited us the staff to eat with them.
Today Keat Sokly (standing) and I, as co-directors of the Deaf Development Programme, went to Kampot Province to our center there. Our unhappy task was to explain to the staff there that our project in Kampot will be reduced in size in 2019 because of budget cuts by funders and some of the staff will lose their jobs.
Today we celebrated International Deaf Day in Cambodia and many deaf people came to spend the day or part of it with their deaf friends, playing games or just talking and catching up. Click here to see some photos from Deaf Day.
At the end of this year, Maryknoll’s Seedling of Hope HIV/AIDS project will close and the Deaf Development Programme will move to the Seedling office building and grounds. Today the management of DDP visited Seedling with the landlord of the property to discuss the transition. A large fish pond is one of the notable features of the grounds.
Today Ratanak (standing) came back to the Maryknoll Deaf Development Programme to talk to our deaf Year 2 students. Ratanak went through our Education Project and Job Training Project and became a barber, and now has a successful barbershop in Kandal Province. He spoke to the students of coming to DDP and getting education and training and how that has changed his life. He was a great inspirational speaker for our students.
Every month we have a celebration for those whose birthdays are that month and today we celebrated September–and also added two staff who are finishing their time at DDP. Working with a young and lively staff is one of the benefits of the management job at DDP.
Aaron Wong is a sign language linguist from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. For the last three weeks he has been in Cambodia, training the members of our sign language committee in the basics of sign language linguistics to help them promote and develop the national sign language better. Aaron has done a wonderful job, a resource that we have waited for for several years. Today was the last day of the training and after the deaf students expressed their appreciation for his work, Charlie Dittmeier offered him two of the DDP khramas that we give to our visitors.
On 14 August, Kaitlynn Himmelreich finished up her two months of research with the deaf community here in Cambodia and got on the plane to return to her student life in the US where classes begin next Monday. Kaitlynn adjusted well to life in Cambodia and was really able to integrate with and communicate with the deaf people wherever she them. Here she is presenting to Charlie Dittmeier a thank-you card acknowledging the good experiences she had in Cambodia.
DDP has become quite well known in the deaf world since 1997 and many deaf people–individuals and groups–come to see us. This past week, Hosanna Church in Busan, Korea visited. They are a deaf congregation and we had a good visit.