Cambodia - Takhmao
Marist Solidarity Cambodia
Decades of war and internal conflict have left Cambodia one of the world's poorest countries. Millions of land mines were sowed throughout the countryside and millions of them still lie hidden and unexploded. Mines are an enduring menace to the eight out of ten Cambodians who live in rural areas and they are an obstacle to agricultural development.
Cambodia's poor people number almost 4.8 million and 90 per cent of them are in rural areas. Most depend on agriculture for their livelihood.
Two thirds of the country's 1.6 million rural households face seasonal food shortages each year. Rice alone accounts for as much as 30 per cent of household expenditures.
The country's poor include subsistence farmers, members of fishing communities, landless people and rural youth, as well as internally displaced persons and mine victims.
Women, in particular, do not have equal access to education, paid employment nor land ownership and other property rights. For many women, reproductive health services are inadequate or non-existent. Many have had to assume the responsibility for heading their households after male family members were killed in conflict.
Rural poverty and lack of opportunity in rural areas have contributed to the spread of HIV AIDS, as young women migrate to urban factories or become sex workers in neighbouring countries.
In Cambodia, there are an estimated 86,000 children and young people under the age of 20 living with physical disabilities. Those with a disability are less likely to attend school and more likely to drop out than their non-disabled peers. High levels of poverty, distance to school and transport difficulties contribute to non-attendance.
Marist Solidarity Cambodia (MSC) is committed to increasing Cambodians’ educational opportunities and consequently their integration into the education system. To achieve this, MSC has developed and operates La Valla School in Takhmao. It is the only school in Cambodia offering a full primary education to children and young people with a physical disability (102 students in 2016). The majority of students attending La Valla are years behind in their education due to neglect in their villages and denied access to education. 73% of these students are aged 13 and over.
Graduates then transition to Marist Solidarity Cambodia’s inclusive education program whereby they live in support accommodation whilst they attend mainstream secondary schools and tertiary institutions. Students are provided with educational mentors and receive thorough medical care including personalized physiotherapy specific to their disability.
Supplementing the school education, a small village that will house up to 80 students is planned for 2017 on the school’s property (1.6 Ha).
What is Lenity Australia’s Involvement?
Lenity Australia is joining other international donors to ensure the future of this project. Its current commitment is for 3 years.