Friday–23 March

The Finnish Association of the Deaf is funding a leadership training program leading up to the establishing of a national association of the deaf in Cambodia.  FAD funds are being used for a youth camp this weekend so we took Johanna Karinen to Sihanoukville to observe the first day of the camp.

At 6:00 AM we were at the DDP office in Phnom Penh where a busload of young deaf adults were gathering for the trip to Sihanoukville.
We left earlier than the bus, taking a van down to the coast. As we waited for the bus to arrive, Johanna Karinen and Russ Brine looked from the church property over the harbor and the development on the hill below the church.
Our trip in the van took 4 1/2 hours. The bus trip took a lot longer because they told me they stopped four times for people to use the bathroom.
Videos withh sign language are a good way to communicate with the deaf people, and the camp staff had prepared a short introductory video for all to watch when they arrived.
Charlie Dittmeier welcomed the young people and introduced Johanna Karinen and the Finnish Association of the Deaf to them.
One of the first activities was a simple survey of how people felt about being at the camp, our second time to stage this gathering.
During a break, the camp staff gathered together to discuss how things were proceeding.
The approach for the camp is to use various activities which are fun and enjoyable but which also can be used to make a point when the group reflects on their experience in the activity.
The meals are a fun time when the deaf youth get a chance to really meet each other or to renew old friendships.
Different groups take turns washing the meal dishes. Here two young men separate the food for the pigs from the paper napkins and other trash.
An enjoyable–and really important–part of the camp is just being with friends in a learning environment.
The curse of the Internet is that your work follows you around the world, and while the deaf youth were playing an evening game, Russ Brine was on a conference call with Maryknoll people on four continents.
The final game of the day was just fun, trying to continue a pattern of clapping, eliminating those who make a mistake.