International Deaf Day
22 October 2009
Morning Activities (Part 1)


Preparations   |   MORNING ACTIVITIES (1)   |   Morning Activities (2)   |   Afternoon Activities (1)   |  Afternoon Activities (2)

It was decided that this year's Deaf Day--the tenth that has been celebrated in Cambodia--would be on a smaller scale than usual because of a lack of time for planning and limited human and financial resources. The plan called for a simple opening ceremony followed by a day of games for all the deaf people.

The program was scheduled to begin at 8:30 AM with the arrival of the official guests from the ministry. Deaf people started gathering at 6:30 AM, however, not unusual at all in Cambodian culture where most weddings take place at 6:00 o'clock in the morning.

Deaf people arriving for the celebration

Because official guests were coming from the ministry, it was necessary to provide special tables and chairs for them and for the representatives from partner NGOs. Here Som Vichet, our interpreter project coordinator, places flowers on the table where the ministry VIP would sit.

Vichet placing flowers on the VIP table

Justin Smith, the deputy director of the Deaf Development Programme, welcomed Ngin Saorath, the executive director of the Cambodian Disabled People's Organization.

Justin Smith welcoming Ngin Saorath

After the national anthem was "sung" in sign language, Charlie Dittmeier welcome all the guests and the deaf people to this year's Deaf Day celebration. Charlie spoke only in sign language and an interpreter voiced his welcome for the hearing people.

Charlie Dittmeier welcoming everyone

The venue for this year's celebration was at the DDP Deaf Community Center. It is a somewhat small area, but it was adequate for the numbers this year and it avoided the complications of using a public venue which would have necessitated dealing with the municipality—normally a difficult endeavor—and paying bribes.

The deaf people in the audience

Veasna, one of the DDP's seven interpreters, listened to the verbal speeches and interpreted them into Cambodia Sign Language for the deaf audience.

Veasna, a sign language interpreter

His Excellency Kim Sokha, one of the Secretaries of State from the Ministry of Social Affairs, was the honored guest and gave a speech on behalf of the government.

The representative from the ministry

After the speeches, the guests toured a simple exhibit of DDP's sign language books and photos of our activities. The guests were supposed to participate in a demonstration 20-minute sign language class, but they got moving toward the exit and just kept on going.

The guests at an exhibit

Heang Samath, one of the DDP sign language researchers, was the MC for the morning ceremony. Samath has been part of the deaf community since its earliest days in 1996.

Heang Samath, the MC

Most of the deaf people attending the Deaf Day festivities were from Phnom Penh. The Deaf Development Programme did not bring in its students studying in the provinces. The NGO ADD (Action for Development and Disability) brought this large group from Kampong Speu Province, however.

A deaf group from Kampong Speu Province

When the guests had gone, the yard of the Deaf Community Center was rearranged for games and the deaf youth prepared for an enjoyable day.

Deaf students after the opening ceremony

It was not planned, but the staff of DDP decided to go to lunch together and had an enjoyable meal at a nearby restaurant.

DDP staff eating lunch together

Go to Activities page on DDP website
Go to Charlie Dittmeier's home page