Despite a gradually improving national economy, a large number of Cambodia’s population remain poor and extremely vulnerable to adversity. Cambodia continues to lack a sufficient social services infrastructure to provide a safety net for these individuals. Many of these vulnerable individuals are children, among the most vulnerable of whom are those who are orphaned and/or disabled.
The Cambodian Christian non-governmental organization, Children In Families, addresses many of the needs these children face within the context of one of the most basic needs, the need for family. The ABLE program was developed within Children In Families to address even more specifically the unique needs of children with disabilities.
In Cambodia, people with disabilities are among the most marginalized people in all of society. In addition to the shame that often accompanies having a disability in Cambodian culture, the lack of support services available to most Cambodians with disabilities and the lack of opportunity for education, employment, etc. create huge obstacles to participation in community life and often result in a heavy financial strain for families affected by disability. Caring for a child with disabilities is perceived by some families as a burden too difficult to bear, causing many children with disabilities to be relinquished to orphanages or to be exploited in a variety of other ways, including being used for professional begging. In addition to being cut off from the love and care of a family, the vast majority of these children will be robbed of the most basic of human rights and never have the opportunity to realize their potential or come to know that they are image-bearers of the Sovereign Lord of the universe, who loves them, considers them precious, and has a plan for their lives.
Our name represents our vision. ABLE stands for Accepted, Belonging, Loved, Empowered. We envision children with disabilities having a sense of being accepted by and belonging to their communities, experiencing the love of Christ and the love
Children In Families exists to facilitate, support, and advocate for family-based care for children in adversity. While the detrimental effects of institutional care on the development of children is well-documented, orphanages have long been an overused and inadequate solution for children in Cambodia. Children In Families addresses this problem by helping to support the care of children facing adverse circumstances within their existing family networks whenever possible. In cases where a child cannot be safely cared for by biologically-related family members, we identify, train, and follow up with suitable foster families. The ABLE program was developed to address the unique challenges faced by those families caring for children with disabilities.
The current program manager for the ABLE program is WorldVenture missionary, Lisa Yunker. She is a pediatric physical therapist with eighteen years of experience serving families affected by disability in the U.S. Since the beginning of 2013 she has been working with and helping to build the capacity of our Cambodian staff members to provide services and build connections which empower families to provide for the optimal health and well-being of children with disabilities, maximizing each child’s potential and promoting inclusion and participation in the community. This involves providing home-based direct therapy services to families, coordinating and networking with other organizations providing services to children with disabilities and helping families to access them, providing emotional and spiritual support to families, and building constructive relationships in the community to promote greater acceptance and inclusion for those with disabilities.
We currently have two wonderful Cambodian Christian staff members working in the ABLE program, Srey Ny, a physiotherapist, and Savorn, who works in a support role with Srey Ny at the community level in the rural province in which most of our children live. In addition to operating expenses for our current activities, we need additional staff to come alongside these hard-working ladies to enable us to provide services to more children and help to lighten the load for their families. We also plan to develop a respite day center which will provide increased opportunity for therapeutic intervention, education, and socialization for the children in our program, while also providing a break for the family members caring for them..
Budget Items for a 12 month period:
$12,750.00 – family care stipends to foster families
$9,960.00 – salaries and benefits for our current Cambodian staff members plus three additional staff
$5,800.00 – nutritional support for the children in the ABLE program
$1,200.00 – transportation costs to help children access services they need
$2,500.00 – costs involved in helping children access medical services
$1,200.00 – costs involved in helping children with disabilities receive educational assistance
$700.00 – therapy materials
$400.00 – other miscellaneous caregiver resources
$1750.00 – rent, administrative expenses, & other miscellaneous