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Sambath Story

Sambath, a disability activist in Cambodia.

Sambath's Story.

Disability Activist, Cambodia.

Sambath was ostracised by her community for having a disability.

When Sambath was 7, a high fever and poor local health provisions left her paralysed in her right arm and left leg. Still a young girl but now severely disabled Sambath’s friends stopped talking to her; they would shout out “Mi Kavey”, a discriminating name for someone who can’t walk properly, whenever they saw her. For Sambath it was a deeply painful time.

“Imagine that you are in the same class, doing the same thing, but now, no one talks or plays with you. I felt so lonely. They saw me as a monster.”

Some villagers believe that disabled people bring bad luck and Sambath found that she was no longer invited to village ceremonies or events. Many times, Sambath would sneak in and hide in the kitchen, washing dishes and cleaning, desperate to be a part of the community.

“Sometimes, my tears dropped in the washing container; I told myself I will make a change in my life someday.”

When ADD International set up self-help groups in the province where Sambath lives she quickly became a member and from that moment on, she didn’t feel alone in the world anymore.

Sambath dedicated herself to learning more about disability issues.

Her hard work meant she was soon elected leader of her self-help group. A year later, she was appointed Vice Head of the regional disabled people’s organisation supported by ADD and voted ‘outstanding staff and focal person in promoting the disability movement’.

Disability activists were able to bring Sambath into a community of people that gave her the confidence to unlock her potential and see that the world is full of opportunities for her.

She is now making lasting change in her community where, “people now understand that disability is a human rights issue.”

Let's build movements together.

Millions of disabled people in Africa and Asia are still condemned to a life of poverty and exclusion. Right now, organisations of disability activists are working to fight discrimination and ensure every disabled person gets a fighting chance at living their best life. They urgently need your support.

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