Eight-year-old Channa’s face lights up and then breaks into a big smile, revealing the playful little girl inside. But between bouts of laughter, a more serious Channa all too easily takes her place. This little girl’s life has not been all fun and games.
Born premature at nearly 2.5 pounds, Channa's mother Sokra remembers the joy of seeing her adorable little face for the first time. When she realized that her baby had been born with deformed fingers and a left leg almost detached from her body, a chill ran down her spine. The doctor immediately decided to amputate. Shocked, the young mother took a long time to adjust.
Deep in her native village in Cambodia, Channa grew up under the helpless gaze of her parents. Sokra was overprotective of her daughter and suffered in silence as the other children in the village took their first steps. Her daughter would never be able to walk. Or so she thought. “The first time Humanity & Inclusion's social worker came to explain that my daughter could walk with a prosthesis, I felt so relieved,” she explains. “It was wonderful to hear that Channa had a future too! It really upset me to see her drag herself along the floor at an age when most children were taking their first steps.” At 18 months, Channa took her first few steps with her new leg.
Channa visits our orthopedic center in Kampong Cham when she needs to be fitted with a new prosthesis, better adapted to her growing body. She can’t imagine life without her faithful companion: “I love my prosthesis,” Channa exclaims. “It changed my life. Now I can walk and play jump rope!”
Enrolled at school for the last two years, Channa had to repeat her first year. She had problems learning to write because of her deformed fingers, but she persevered and now she can write like her counterparts. The most difficult challenge for Channa: fitting in at school. “When I started school, it was really hard. Some of my classmates would beat me and laugh at me. I didn’t want to go anymore,” she confides.
“I didn’t say anything. It was my cousin who spilled the beans. Mom was very angry. She went to see my teacher and they had a chat. The teacher talked to the children who were hurting me and since then, the problems have stopped. Now, I have lots of friends.”
Channa loves learning! One of her favorite times of the school day is when she can connect with her friends and play jump rope. That’s when she becomes the star of the playground, as light as a feather, her face beaming with a smile!
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Vimean Srun, 46, has been a Humanity & Inclusion physical therapist in Cambodia for the past 20 years. He recently shared the story of why he became a physical a therapist and where his career has taken him.
“I decided to become a physical therapist at a time when there were almost no Cambodian PTs,” says Srun. “Physical therapy departments were just beginning to open in hospitals.” He was inspired to become a PT after witnessing the plight of people who had lost limbs due to landmines as a result of the civil war in Cambodia.
“I was deeply saddened seeing people who suffered bodily mutilation caused by explosive remnants of war planted during the Khmer Rouge regime.”
After working for several years as a physical therapist at the public hospital in Kampong Cham, Srun joined the Kampong Cham Physical Rehabilitation Center run by HI in 1998. Today he is the head of the physical therapy department at. Although he is a manger now, he still loves working with patients. In addition to providing care for people injured during the war, he cares for children and adults with many different types of injuries and disabilities.
Today he is working with Khin Sou, a four-month-old baby diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Srun massages Khin Sou’s muscles and performs exercises designed to help improve his reflexes and motor skills. And after two months of treatment, the Khin Sou has already regained some of his functionality.
“Working with patients like Khin Sou and see them improving thanks to my efforts gives me the motivation to get up every morning and come to work,” says Srun. “It’s the fulfillment of the dreams of my youth.”
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Eight-year-old Channa’s face lights up and then breaks into a big smile, revealing the playful little girl inside. But between bouts of laughter, a more serious Channa all too easily takes her place. This little girl’s life has not been all fun and games.Read more
Seven-year-old Chetra is one of the youngest patients at the Handicap International rehabilitation center in Kompong Cham, Cambodia.Read more
In 2011, three-year-old Chetra’s life was turned upside down when a speeding motorcycle struck him. He had been picking leaves from a small bush on the edge of the road near his home when he was struck at such a force that his foot was torn from his leg.Read more