Meet Miss. Chanreaksmey, a champion supporting persons with disabilities

Meet Miss. Chanreaksmey, a champion supporting persons with disabilities

Miss Seng Chanreaksmey, has an enduring ambition to support persons with disabilities to reach their financial income goals.

She is the first of five children, who became disabled at the age of two years old caused by muscle weakening and a malfunction disorder, that severely affected her mobility and consequently requiring her to use  a wheelchair.

As a child, she was bullied at school by her classmates who , intimidated her disability, “My neighbours and my classmates looked at me as a stranger with no value, only a few people were friendly and talked to me”, Chanreaksmey revealed. With these discriminatory experiences, she sometimes felt excluded, disempowered and lacking motivation to engage in her community. As a result, she dropped out of school in grade 8 due to discrimination and  disempowerment.

Life is more challenging in terms of income-generating activities for individuals who obtain lower levels of education. After dropping out of school, Chanreaksmey stayed at home and undertook typical housework like other girls in the community. This is her primary source of income that she generates in an effort to support her family as well as set aside some savings.

She has been engaging with the Phnom Penh Centre for Independent Living (PPCIL) since December 2019 as a peer in a wheelchair in order to share her experiences with others.  In August 2020, she joined the CAFE Financial Coaching program organized by Chamroeun Microfinance Plc (CMP) in partnership with Good Return (GR) as part of the DFAT-funded Australia-Cambodia Cooperation for Equitable Sustainable Services (ACCESS) Program. Through her participation, Chanreaksmey learned about financial management, cash-flow, how to create a savings plan in line with her financial life cycle needs, and also how to communicate with financial service providers.

By engaging with the Program, Chanreaksmey is able to perform regular financial tracking and cash-flow management.  She is also more empowered to communicate with financial service providers to acquire financial products for future use. “I want to set up an online business and continuously develop my future career and make substantial income”, she added and has been developing some financial and business plans for her future goals as a result of her increased knowledge and awareness.

She is currently working with PPCIL as a champion to support persons with disabilities to live independently in the community through the use of personal assistant and assistive devices by highlighting her own experience on how people with severe disabilities can live independently. This has made her extremely happy because now she has an opportunity to share her experience with other persons with disabilities, especially women, so they too can challenge the barriers they face in society.

Additionally, now that she has connected and gotten to know more persons with disabilities through her work, , it has changed her mind and she realises now that she wants to try her best to improve her situation and be a valuable member of her community and society. “I wish other persons with disabilities stay healthy and avoid the COVID-19 infection. Let’s stand up together for our society!”

Through the ACCESS Program, Good Return has adapted its CAFE Financial Coaching Program curriculum and materials to be accessible for persons with disabilities; and trained coaches on how to engage with people with different types of impairments; recruited coaches from PPCIL and Persons with Disabilities Foundation (PWDF); and engaged with Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) and local leaders to empower persons with disabilities to join the program.

The Australian Government through the ACCESS Program is working with the Royal Government of Cambodia and Implementing Partners. ACCESS has been working with PWDF and DPOs through Cambodian Disabled People’s Organisation (CDPO) to provide sustainable services to women affected by gender-based violence and persons with disabilities.