Thursday, June 18, 2015

The importance of an inclusive community

By Sam Waller

25-year-old Chea holds the storyboard for his film at the One Minutes Junior workshop in Kampot
KAMPOT, Cambodia, 18th June 2015: All is silent except the noisy chugging of the boat engine, which is sailing slowly up Kampot River. 25-year-old Chea concentrates as he acts out an important shot for the film he has written, as part of the UNICEF One Minutes Junior workshop. The scene ends and one of his team mates tells a joke. Chea breaks out into his trademark wide smile.

It is hard to believe that just three years ago, Chea felt so hopeless that he rarely left his house. Previously he had been a construction worker, building a house in Kampot town. While moving some long metal rods, one of the pieces of metal he was holding touched a live electricity wire, giving him a huge electric shock. The accident turned his life upside down.

Chea was taken to hospital, where both his arms had to be amputated below the elbow. He had to remain in hospital for around three months. When he eventually returned to his family home he felt utterly bereft. “I just stayed at home for about a year. I felt so sad and hurt. I couldn’t do anything at all.”

Chea's fellow student films a shot for his film on a boat on Kampot River

Thanks to the support and understanding of his family and his neighbours, things started to turn around for Chea. Over time, they helped him to stop feeling hopeless. They supported him to start doing some basic tasks and to get out of the house. Social inclusion is a fundamental part of UNICEF’s work to support people with disabilities. In Chea’s case, the acceptance and support of his community was hugely important in making him the expressive and confident young man he is today.

“I started slowly and then I decided to commit to learning to do things,” he explains. Eventually he build up his capabilities to be able to help his family with chores. “I started by feeding the chickens and then the cows. I wanted to support my living and help my family.” He learned how to get dressed, to eat and to ride a bicycle.

Chea reviews footage of his film with One Minutes Junior facilitator Judith

A month ago Chea enrolled on the inclusive arts course at Epic Arts, one of UNICEF’s partner organizations. He is now taking part in One Minutes Junior - a creative UNICEF workshop where young people write, produce and edit a one minute film about their life. Chea hopes that people who watch his film will think twice about what people with disabilities can do. “People can learn skills that fit with their disability and can get a job. They can show their ability to the world!”

Tomorrow Chea’s film will be screened alongside twenty other one minute films created by his fellow students. When his movie starts, you can be sure that his trademark smile will be in evidence once again.

Great shot! It's a thumbs up for Chea's acting skills at the One Minutes Junior workshop

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