A charity founded by a 26-year-old former student of Jersey College for Girls is set to open Cambodia’s first ever day care centre to look after disabled kids in late November.
The centre will allow wheelchair access, which is virtually unknown in the South-East Asian country and the 20 children who will use the facility will be receiving education, healthcare and rehabilitation services as well as a hot meal on a daily basis.
The centre will be run by EmbraceAbility, a charity set up by 26-year-old Jodie Le Marrec in July. Ms Le Marrec whose family live in St Ouen and is a former pupil of both Beaulieu and Jersey College for Girls, set up the charity after working in disabled centres for non-governmental organisations across South-East Asia. Ms Le Marrec started volunteer work overseas in India at the age of 22 and began to raise awareness of issues disabled people face in Cambodia through a online blog. Her continued work in the field led to her launching the charity which was registered in England in July and she aims to set up a Jersey branch soon.
The centre will be based in Russey Keo near Phnom Penh and its beneficiaries will be disabled youngsters from Koh Dach island. Their families will thus get the chance to go to work during the day and improve their standard of living. When the centre opens, the charity will also start training the country’s first occupational therapist who will help the youngsters and their families learn how to live better with their disability.
Ms Le Marrec explained that her experience in Cambodia helped her identify shocking gaps in provision for disabled people and inspired her to improve disability care for children and their families. She said: "Cambodia has one of the highest disability rates in the developing world. Poverty and disability are inextricably linked. As my knowledge grew, I was repeatedly shocked and astonished that international development agencies had not included people with disabilities in developmental programmes. When I saw the realities of life for disabled children and their families, I just felt I had to do something about it myself."
Pictured: EmbraceAbility was launched by 26-year-old Jodie Le Marrec in July.
The young woman promised that, when the new day care centre opens in late November, the therapy services provided will be tailored to the needs of each individual child. "All rehabilitation plans will be explained to families and will include a home folder for weekends," she said.
EmbraceAbility aims to be a sustainable organisation and to employ local therapists. Overseas experts will be brought in to train Cambodian therapists until they are sufficiently qualified to take over the role themselves. The charity will also support the wider community and run monthly support groups for local families. Ms Le Marrec said: "Staff will be on-hand to talk through concerns, offer support and to build up a network of families who can support each other."
She added that workshops on preventing disability will also be run as many physical impairments in Cambodia are caused by malnutrition, road accidents and unsafe environments.
Ms Le Marrec, who is one of two directors, runs the charity from its base in Brighton. She spends the vast majority of her time both fundraising and co-ordinating the efforts and said that to make the project sustainable for the long term, EmbraceAbility needs to raise about £4,000 a month. She is appealing to Islanders to support what she described as an "extremely worthwhile and sustainable project." "We aim is to teach people who are currently helpless how to help themselves," she said.
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