Today the Disability Action Council, a section of the government’s Ministry of Social Affairs, had a Deaf Day celebration in connection with International Deaf Week that is observed around the world at the end of September.
The good points:  the speaker encouraged all the television stations to add a sign language interpreter on screen for their broadcasts;  he said only certified interpreters should be used.
The bad points:  on a day ostensibly to recognize and honor the deaf people, there was not one deaf person on the stage, just two rows of government officials;  deaf people need to sit near the front so they can readily see the sign language interpreter and catch the nuances of facial expression, etc., but the first four rows of the theater seats were filled with more government people and the deaf were moved towards the rear of the hall;  a speaker from the ministry stated that sign language is “universal,” meaning there is one sign language used every where (that’s not true);  the wording on the back of the purple T-shirts given to the participants said in Khmer “deaf and dumb.” Deaf people are not dumb and that phrasing is offensive to them.  At the end of the ceremony, the government officials and invited guests were taken downstairs for a reception with tea and coffee, fruits, cakes, etc., and provided with photo opportunities. The deaf people were kept upstairs in the auditorium and given a bottle of water and a box with a sandwich, croissant, and some fruit.
Last week we initiated a formal break time for the DDP staff who work in the main office in Phnom Penh. We hoped that getting all the staff together would build camaraderie, improve communications, and strengthen a team spirit. Things got going slowly last week, but today it clicked! This was the scene at our morning break when we had our teachers, interpreters, cleaners, guards, directors–everybody–together. We are fortunate that our “new” office building has this wonderful upstairs porch for a break area.
The Church of Cambodia is having a vocations camp this week, bringing together 300 youth from all over the kingdom to discuss what it means to be a Catholic Christian and to reflect on the idea of a vocation of service as a sister or brother or priest. Today different small groups visited various organizations to learn about the work of the Catholic Church in Cambodia. This group came to the Deaf Development Programme where I talked to them about deaf ministry.
This is our DDP co-director, Keat Sokly, at the World Federation of the Deaf conference in Paris, France today. He and I had planned to go together but I found the trip would cost me $2,500-$3,000 and I just couldn’t afford that. Sokly was able to be included in a budget with one of our partner groups. These WFD conferences are every four years and are really valuable for the ideas shared there and the people you meet.
Our new office for the Maryknoll Deaf Development Programme is much an improvement on our old location. It is notable for the increased space we have and the different uses it makes possible. And it is noteworthy, too, for the accumulation of stone animals the landlord deposited around the grounds when he first developed his property. Here are SOME of them!
Ellie (L) and Zoe are two students from Notre Dame University in the United States. They are in Cambodia with Maryknoll for a summer program for two months and will spend part of their time at the Deaf Development Programme.
Here they learn Cambodian Sign Language with two of the DDP sign language teachers.
Today the choral group Musica Felice presented their summer concert. Many of their members are from the English Catholic community and a special addition to this program was blind and deaf young people, including deaf students from the Maryknoll Deaf Development Programme. Click here to see pictures from the performance.
Click here for more pictures of the forest, cabins, and activities of the deaf youth camp in Preah Vihear Province.