Apostolic Vicariate of Phnom PenhDaily News

Peace Centre Provides Hope for disabled children and their widow mothers

A mother Men Yom who takes her child to receive service at the centre every day said: “Since coming to have received the service at the Peace Centre, my child is better than it was before. Previously the child’s eyes have clearly seen objects but now my child can see objects better.”

The centre is a place receiving intellectually disabled children. The mother further said that she has taken her child to the centre since the August of 2018 – over a year. Yom also commented: “My child is better than when the child has yet to come to the centre for physiotherapy. Now he is better than it was before, he can move his hands. We call him, he hears it. Previously his eyes have not seen objects clearly, but he has now seen objects already.”

Next to the Yom’s bed in the physiotherapy room, another widow, Theary whose disabled son is receiving the service from the centre, said that until now her son Panha could sit himself better than before. He was more balanced and stronger.  

Theary is a member of the health centre’s staff in Takeo province. Because her son has experienced the problem, the mother has suspended her work for some time to take care of the son until he can walk. Panha is her first born, who has disabilities. However, the mother always has the strength of mind to care for the son. Theary further said with hope: “I keep encouraging myself because I used to see many illnesses. There are their children being even more disabled than my son. If I have enough time, he does not have any problems. He could listen to all; he is just somewhat playful and weak in the muscle of his legs. If I try to make many movements for him, he will increasingly improve.”

In Cambodia society, families whose children have disabilities have serious burdens. In the faith, they find that it is Karma (the spiritual principle of cause and effect), which each person has to be suffered from what they had done in previous life. Certain families do not take care of their children, they have shame.     

With regard to the case, Men Yom added: “When taking the child along, I feel very shameful. I do not dare to show my face. I feel very difficult.” But now feelings of this tense have cooled off her since she has met man people whose children are of a similar nature to her at the centre. The mother stressed: “Ï think that only I who have such the child. But when coming here, everybody else has such a state, so it can help reduce my mental tense. Coming here encourages me much and I always have the strength to take care of the child. I do not feel shame of them anymore; I even carry my child to the waist.” In spite of knowing that, the child has no hope like the others, Yom tries to take the child to be treated with physiotherapy every day.

The Peace Centre was established by bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler in the 2000s at the Phnom Voarh in Kampot province along with   AIDS-Positive families until 2010 it was relocated to Kous commune’s Pong Teuk village in Take province’s Tramkak district. According to a report by Keo Phok, the director of the Peace Centre, for the new relocation, there are 10 houses for the AIDS-Positive families two Montessori method of education pre-schools for boarding. Two buildings for welcoming and caring for children with disabilities and a few buildings are for activities in the centre.

Keo Phok further said that a seven-room building inaugurated on 5 April 2019 is for caring for children with disabilities. One room is for the physiotherapy facility the children and one room is for a special class to practise language. Two rooms are for office equipment and three bathrooms and one swimming pool is for exercise and movement. Generous donors of Mission Cambodge have donated the Peace centre in the form of the new buildings.

Phok further elaborated that, until now, the centre has received 84 children with disabilities. Of whom 15 to 25 had received from Monday to Friday the service of physiotherapy treatment, health care, personal hygiene and body-promotion food.  The centre also teaches them on letters, numbers and also day-to-day life.

Besides these, the centre has gone door to door three times a week in an effort to provide service severely and non- severely disabled children at their houses.

Bishop Olivier, who is also the founder of the Peace Centre, said that every human, be old or young, male or female or disabled persons, are human beings same as each other with equal rights. So there had to be love, solidarity and value for one another. Do not discriminate and there had to be motivation for each other in an effort to enjoy success and happiness in life.

He also commented that the construction of the new building was to help provide health care the disabled children here in order that they receive love, attention and technically proper health care and educate them with knowledge and intelligence as ordinary children.

He added that the care of the disabled children was not easy. It was doubly or three times difficult, when compared to that of ordinary children.  The bishop has also encouraged all centres to take part in helping disabled children without discrimination and give them good care. The disabled themselves has also strived to struggle out and be strong. Do not be discouraged because the disabled is ever lonely.

Sae Chanthon, a member of the Peace Centre’s staff for mental counselling, said that working intellectually disabled children had difficulties because they were not as strong as ordinary ones and language was difficult to communicate either because they do not know how to speak and listen, it was difficult. Overall, the utmost care had to be taken because it was very difficult.

The member expressed his feelings further saying: “Sometimes, I get bored with them, too. But for love of the children, hence I must try to stay, play with and help them all the time in which they need. I do this work with love. When the children smile at me, I feel very happy.”

Chanthon also elaborated: “I want to help the children despite not having 100 per cent like ordinary ones. I provide them with the strength of mind in order for them to have the strength of mind and hope in their lives. When they have joys, it leads to living a long life.”