Deaf Day
23 September 2008


International Deaf Day or Deaf Awareness Day is celebrated in the last week of September in most countries around the world. In some areas, it becomes Deaf Awareness Week with a whole series of activities designed to bring the invisible disability of deafness and the problems and the abilities of deaf people to the consciousness of surrounding society. The last weekend in September in Cambodia is the celebration of Pchum Ben, a major remembrance time for the dead, so this year Deaf Day was moved forward to Tuesday, 23 September 2008.

Sokly (right), the manager of the Deaf Development Programme, was responsible for organizing Deaf Day this year. Here he oversees the distribution of T-shirts for the event. T-shirts are a "must" for any event in Cambodia. Deaf Day preparations at DDP
H.E. Ith Sam Heng, the Minister of Social Affairs, watches a group of deaf students signing the national anthem at the beginning of the morning's celebration.
A group of classical dancers from the Krousar Thmey deaf school in Phnom Penh perform the traditional blessing dance.
Students in job training, who live at DDP House, had a skit about good and bad behavior.
Younger deaf students from Krousar Thmey deaf school performed a Peacock Dance and then received an award from the Minister.
After the welcoming speeches, the minister and his entourage walked through the exhibit areas to see the work of deaf people and of the ten organizations who serve the deaf community in various ways.
Another group of deaf young adults performed a popular song in sign language to music turned up so loud that it was almost painful for the hearing people.
Keat Sokly (center), DDP's manager, speaking with Ham Hak (left) and Thong Vinal who are the communications officer and executive director of the Disability Action Council. The DAC helps to negotiate with the government offices and officials to get the necessary permits for the events like this. The municipality refused to let the deaf people march, as they have in the previous seven Deaf Days, because the government is paranoid and afraid of any assembly. Imagine what a group of young deaf people could do!?
One of the activities which the deaf people enjoyed greatly was a sack race with many elimination heats to determine the winner.
The winners of the various games and the performers received prizes for their accomplishments.
H.E. Kol Pheng (seated), the Minister of Education, came at the end of the morning to distribute prizes and officially close the Deaf Day celebration. He is a minister who really stands out because of his genuine interest in people with disabilities and his desire to better their education. And as seen here, he has the personal touch.
H.E. Kol Pheng examining the new sign language dictionaries produced by the Deaf Development Programme with funding from the Nippon Foundation in Japan.
As the activities began to conclude, the staff working at the DDP booth were able to relax a little. The staff got the afternoon off after all their hard work in preparing Deaf Day and making it happen so successfully.
Go to Activities page on DDP website
Go to Charlie Dittmeier's home page