This year is significant as Caritas’s Center for Child and Adolescent Mental Health program (CCAMH) invited mothers and caregivers of children with disabilities to celebrate the International Women’s Day at Chey Chumnas hospital in Kandal province.
The International Women’s Day is a worldwide event that celebrates women’s struggle and achievement to gain equal rights. Many countries observe the day with conference, meeting, campaign, networking event and so on.
Caritas Cambodia has declared ‘Journey of Compassion’ as the development-theme/ motto for the year 2018. Dr. Bhoomikumar, the Director and Consultant Child Psychiatrist of CCAMH said the celebration is a tribute to women who embody compassion in daily life, and in the family. Most of the children with different abilities are nurtured and cared for either by mother or grandmother. Often the women find it a challenge to make ends meet, as they could not find time for livelihood opportunities, burdened by caregiving activities for the child with special needs. It was a great pleasure to have the presence of members of the parent association, children, and the dignitaries from the Cambodian senate and Indian government.
In addition to honoring mothers of children with different abilities and the caregivers on International Women’s Day, Dr. Bhoomikumar emphasized this day highlights the role of parents, especially mothers and female caregivers by giving them opportunity to share their life experiences on how they struggle to raise their children. Furthermore, it is an opportunity for the policy and decision makers to know the challenges faced by women and advocate for special assistance and support from the government and other key stakeholders. For the first time, the Embassy of India in Phnom Penh is headed by a women and we are happy that HE Mme. Manika Jain graced the occasion to felicitate the mothers of children with different abilities.
Many parents were delighted to come together and celebrate the women’s day with their children.
Ms. Sek Marom, lives in Kandal province and is a mother of a Down syndrome child spoke on behalf of the parent group. She described that she was heartbroken when he son was diagnosed as Down syndrome. She told during that time she kept on searching places to support him until he was registered at CCAMH in 2008. After regular follow-up, doctor’s appointments, counseling and above all her care and effort had considerable impact on her son.
“I am thankful to the professionalism of the doctors and staff at CCAMH who support us, my son as well as other parents and children from across the country”, she said. “Being a parent of children with disability, we should not be hopeless and do not give-up at all. Our children need care, love from us as their parents. The key to success in raising them well is to stay strong and start our self-confident”, she stressed.
Ms. Sek Marom suggested all partners, particularly the government to build a school for children living with special needs to earn a better life for their future and provide a special health care service for them.
Mr. Touch Mun, a father of a 17 year old daughter with severe mental health problem from Phnom Penh, shared similar struggling experience. Early, it was hard for him and family to accept the reality of their daughter. She was unpredictable, he said, but in all circumstances as parents we need to be supportive for our children.
CCAMH’ overarching goal is to improve the quality of life of children and adolescents, particularly with neuro-psychiatric problems and intellectual challenges through women and family empowerment strategies Ms. Sok Dearozet , the Program Manager of CCAMH took the opportunity to present the women centered activities, challenges of mothers of children with different abilities, the vital role of mother as a co-therapist and the future planning for the program. A video of a real life story of a family having a child with Down syndrome and the work of CCAMH was also presented in her session.
According to Ms. Dearozet, the program is committed to continue to strengthen parents through caregiver training. She mentioned the possible collaboration with the National Institute for Empowerment of Persons with Multiple Disabilities (NIEPD) in India and Rehabilitation Council of India to start formal/ accredited courses in disability sector in Cambodia and in child and adolescent mental health in partnership with National Institute for Mental Health and Neuroscience (NIMHANS) in India.
Her Excellency Manika Jain, Ambassador, Embassy of India in Phnom Penh expressed ‘it’s a great honor to be with mothers of children with different abilities to celebrate the International Women’s Day this year’. She shared her own personal life-story and the commitment of her grandmother when she had difficulty in walking in early life, and appreciated the the commitment of the wonderful women. Furthermore, she highlighted the importance of investing in education and health for children with different abilities, especially mental and intellectual challenges, as this issue is often been hidden and neglected. “The celebration today is a symbolic event of our support to not only Cambodian women but all women around the world. We came to celebrate their important role and achievement in different function”, said Her Excellency Manika Jain.
To commemorate the International Women’s Day, the government of India expressed its commitment with government of Cambodia to ensure that women are empowered and their rights are respected. Her Excellency, Ambassador Manika Jain, congratulated the Royal Government of Cambodia and CCAMH for their effort to support children with disabilities and their families.
On behalf of the Royal government of Cambodia, HE. Dr. Ouk Kong, Cambodian senior senator and member of Human Rights Committee acknowledged Cambodian women still encounter challenges and all of these need to be addressed and it is a long way to go together. HE. Dr. Ouk Kong encouraged further collaboration and partnership of all stakeholders.
HE Ambassador Manika Jain, H. E. Dr. Ouk Kong and Mr. Kim Rattana, Executive Director, Caritas Cambodia felicitated parents, children and caregivers by giving gifts in appreciation of their commitment to serve children with special needs.
Caritas’s CCAMH is pioneering organization to provide quality service for children with neuropsychiatric, developmental and mental disabilities. CCAMH offers consistent support to mothers of children with disability through transport allowance, support income generation activities and provide opportunities for stress reduction, relaxation training and meditation. Our services would not have been possible without consistent support from our donors and partners.
Thanks to the Royal Government of Cambodia, the Ministry of health and in-line departments. Thanks the government of India, during the 1980s, was one of the first to establish diplomatic contact and a shipload of hospital instruments, beds and diagnostic equipment worth $200,000 was donated to the Chey Chumneas hospital for it to achieve referral hospital status. During the UNTAC period, three doctors were assigned to work at this hospital under International Technical Exchange Cooperation (ITEC) program. With the support of India Brazil South Africa (IBSA) Trust Fund a ‘one-stop-service’ has been established for children with special needs.
The event came to an end with tree-planting at the ‘disability-friendly play-ground’ and sharing of refreshments with parents, children and guests.
The International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking is presented on Wednesday, 8th February, 2017. Mr. Kim Rattana, Executive Director of Caritas Cambodia briefed the objective of the day. He said “the international day is to create greater awareness among the general public and to reflect on the current situation of human trafficking; particularly women and children. Another goal is to create. public attention and social action to fight against human trafficking which is still a big issue in Cambodian society as well as in the regional and global level”.
During the day, Caritas conducted staff gathering to join for prayer and collaborated with the National interreligious committee to celebrate the day.
In the morning, all staff of Caritas national office is joining together in prayer to celebrate the global act to fight against human. The morning program at the office included: 1/ presentation of short video featuring a true story of a Cambodian women who was trafficked to China, 2/ prayer led by Fr. Hang Ly from the Apostolic Church of Phnom Penh and 3/participatory campaign by stamping hand on the white fabric to dedicate commitment on fighting against human trafficking in all forms.
The second program in the evening was the interreligious prayer in Buddhism, Catholic, Protestant and Muslim way. The attendees are representatives from the four religions, came together to celebrate the prayer for the victims of human trafficking; especially women and children. The International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking is also celebrated in different dioceses, parishes and Caritas’s provincial programs and project.
According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, February, 8 is the feats day St. Josephine Bakhita, who was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery in Sudan and Italy. Once, she was freed, she became a Canossian nun and dedicated her to sharing her testament of deliverance from slavery and comforting the poor and suffering. She was declared as Saint in 2000. On 8th February, Catholics all over the world are encouraged to host or attend prayer services to create greater awareness about this phenomenon. Through prayer , we not only reflect on the experiences of those that have suffered through this affront to human dignity, but also comfort, strengthen and help empower survivors.
Some activities of the International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking conducted at Caritas National office Phnom Penh and Catholic Church-Phsar Touch Phnom Penh.
As happened every year, Caritas Cambodia held an annual staff gathering for all staff at the Catholic Retreat Center in Sihanouk Ville from 18-19 January 2017. Caritas Cambodia is happy to be able to bring 200 staff members in a two-day gathering. This year, there are more participants represented the Catholic Church from Battambong province. The 23th anniversary gathering’s theme is “Together as Family for Mission of Mercy”. Thanks to the Catholic Retreat Center in Sihanouk Ville and Fr. Un Sun that are part of the event and their great hospitality.
Bishop Kike Figaredo, Chairman of Caritas Cambodia welcomed all staff members and representatives from the Catholic Church of Battambong province. On the opening remark, Bishop Kike underlined the value of the theme by emphasizing on four key words:
- Together: Think and care of each other
- Family: Building work environment as home
- Mission: Journey on the same mission to serve the poor and
- Mercy: Love and compassion
More importantly, Caritas Cambodia cannot thank enough to Fr. Totet Banaynal SJ, from the Catholic Church in Siem Reap who provided a reflection session on the theme “Family”. Fr. Totet raised a number of key values that are associated to the theme such as “Love in Marriage”, “Love Made Fruitful”, “Some Pastoral Perspectives”, “Towards a Better Education of Children”, and “Accompanying, Discerning and Integrating Weakness”. He also guided us to discussion and sharing among the group.
As we are entering into the five year strategic framework (2017-2021), the management team represented by Mr. Kim Rattana, Caritas Cambodia Executive Director provided a brief review of the framework, working process, involvement and participation from all level of staff including the communities, the government, partner organizations and donors. He shared with all colleagues the five strategic orientations that are going to be implemented in the next five years. Those strategic pillars include 1/ Emergency Response, Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation, and Ecological Protection, 2/Integral Human Development (IHD), 3/ Anti-human trafficking and Migration, 4/Advocacy& Communication and 5/Good governance.
On behalf of Caritas Cambodia management, Mr. Rattana thanked to all staff that accompanies the organization during year and is looking forward to a continued support and commitment towards a five-year journey and beyond.
Caring for environment
The staff gathering this year is special as it cares for environment. As part of its commitment to promote environment, Caritas Cambodia has collaborated with the Ministry of Environment and the provincial department, as well the provincial authority to highlight the importance of conserving the environment. There are two main environmental activities being carried out within the two day gathering. The first activity is the collection of waste around the retreat center compound and along Ochheuteal beach, one of the beautiful beaches in the country. The second one is mangrove plantation at Preynob, allowing majority of staff to get their first time experience in planting mangrove trees. Both activities are aimed at raising awareness about environment among the communities and general public.
On 9th December 2016, Caritas’s Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health program (CCAMH) commemorated its 25th anniversary in conjunction with the celebration 68th anniversary of the International Human Rights Day under the theme “Promoting child’s rights and rights of people with disabilities”.
On 68th anniversary of International Human Rights Day H.E. Teav Vannol, Member of the senate and Chairman of the first commission on Human Rights to the Senate presided the event to mark the 25th anniversary of CCAMH.
On behalf of the government, His Excellency, Teav Vannol expressed gratitude to CCAMH for their unique and steadfast journey in addressing the need of Cambodian children with development disabilities and mental health problems, aimed at improving their individual rights and the quality of the life of the families. His Excellency extended appreciation to the work of CCAMH by announcing continued and firm support and commitment of the government in fulfilling the needs and rights of children with disabilities and the families.
In Cambodia, comprehensive services for the mentally handicapped persons, especially children and adolescents are not widely available at present. Ms. Sok Dearozet, Program manager for Community Based Inclusive Development program said Caritas is committed to fill the service gap for children with special needs and their families. For the past 25 years, CCAMH team has been passionately engaged in promoting children’s rights through various means to include them in education, vocational rehabilitation and other aspects of the society.
To fulfill the mission, CCAMH is has been implementing Center-based, School-based and Community-based programs. These three programs are built on the values of social justice, health and educational equity. “Through early identification, counseling and multi-model therapy the Caritas-CCAMH team reaches the children with neuropsychiatric problems, such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation, autism, epilepsy and mental health problem”, reported Ms. Dearozet.
CCAMH began operations in Cambodia in 1991 and has been actively engaged in providing quality service to children with neuro-psychiatric problems, developmental and psychological problems in the country. With a strong collaboration with the Government’ s Ministry of Health, CCAMH has made substantial progress by establishing itself as a pioneering organization to provide quality service for children with neuropsychiatric, developmental and mental disabilities. All children in the age group of 0-18 are the focus of Caritas-CCAMH and clients from 23 provinces of Cambodia benefit either directly or indirectly from the services.
Dr. J.Bhoomikumar, Program Director and Consultant Child Psychiatrist, working at the center for the past 20 years remarked: “It has been a challenge to work in post conflict setting but a satisfying experience to develop sustainable systems of health care in the community, school and at the center for vulnerable children. The 25th year of Caritas-CCAMH coincides with the ‘Year of Mercy’ and during this year the team at CCAMH extends its program to the young prisoners, a pioneering effort in the region. Compassion (serving with), Curiosity (to explore the causative factors) and Creativity (in delivering multi-model therapies) are the core values
the Caritas-CCAMH team aspires to strengthen in the coming years. The Caritas-CCAMH team gratefully thanks all the Caritas partners for the invaluable support over the years and looks forward to the journey together with love and wisdom for the sake of children with disabilities in Cambodia. For further information on the achievement and background of CCAMH program, read more: Interview Dr J-Bhoomikumar.nterview Dr J-Bhoomikumar.
2016 marks the 25th anniversary of Caritas-CCAMH. During the year, a series of events were held such as workshops, trainings, meetings and several other activities. Approximately 200 participants representing the Cambodian senators, lawmakers, government officers from in-line Ministries and provincial departments, Catholic NGOs partners, children with disabilities and their parents, Caritas staff attended the 25th anniversary in Chey Chumnas Referral Hospital in Takmao, Kandal province. The day ended with a solidarity lunch along with traditional performances by a group of children and handicapped children from Apostolic of Battambong.