Jesuit Service Cambodia
|Headquarters||376, Kouk Khleang|
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
|Gregorius Priyadi, SJ|
|Oh-chang Kwon, SJ|
|Ashley Evans, SJ|
Jesuit Service Cambodia (JSC) since 1991 has offered diverse services in accompaniment of impoverished people in Cambodia. Through JSC the Society of Jesus and its collaborators have initiated many charitable works throughout the country.
History and vision
In 1980 Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) began work with Cambodian refugees and displaced persons in Thai refugee camps during the Cambodian Civil War. In 1991, through an agreement with the Cambodian Ministry of Social Action, JRS set up an office in Phnom Penh, Jesuit Service Cambodia. Its first development efforts were with refugees, victims of landmines, the village poor, and vocational training for people with disabilities. Sister Denise Coghlan of the Center was on the Steering Committee of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines when it received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997. In 2008 she was made a Member of the Order of Australia for her services, mainly to refugees. JSC's works have diversified and expanded over its first 25 years, but always with a view to serving the disadvantaged, upholding their dignity and rights, alleviating poverty, improving education, and establishing more just relations in Cambodian society.
The JSC team includes Buddhists and Christians, and the whole spectrum of individuals including, in 2013, 23 Jesuits, 3 religious sisters, and 6 volunteers from ten different nations, working in Phnom Penh, Kampong Thom, Siem Reap, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, and Kandal provinces, and on the border between Kampong Chhnang and Kompong Speu provinces. Team leaders are all Cambodians.
Banteay Prieb vocational school
Banteay Prieb ("Dove Center") teaches employability skills to 100 people with disabilities during each year-long session. Skills taught are electronics, mechanics, shoe making, sewing, sculpture, and agriculture. Living together as community enhances their sense of belonging.
Light of Mercy Home
The home can accommodate 42 children with various disabilities including blindness, deafness, and polio. They attend various schools in the area, depending on their needs. Additional programs prepare them to overcome obstacles to independent living.
In response to a high incidence of deafness and ear disease among village children, JSC opened an ear clinic in Phnom Penh which performs otoscopy, audiometry, hearing-aid fitting, and referral for surgery at Battambang Emergency Hospital. The Siem Reap clinic offers screening tests, audiometry, ear washing, and basic medical treatment. Banteay Meanchey patients receive primary care and referral to Phnom Penh as needed.
JSC publishes about 22 children/youth books a year. These improve reading abilities and encourage a habit of reading, while teaching morals through the stories. The books are used for village education programs and libraries and are sold in the market, with some NGOs using them in their programs.
Health soap bar
In 1997, in a society scarred by civil war, lice and scabies were widespread. JSC produced two kinds of soap, to counter each of these.
JSC addresses rural development through an association for men and one for women. Poor Farmers Solidarity Association (PFSA) has a revolving small-loan scheme enabling farmers to start a business, improve farming, or carry out projects. PFSA also creates a sense of solidarity, as farmers help one another and build strong communities. Khmer Women’s Association (KWA) provides literacy classes for all ages, educates on hygiene, and fosters healthy practices. Local KWAs also oversee rice banks and village libraries.
Through this endeavor JSC employs people with disabilities to produce about 1000 wheelchairs and 10 tricycles a year. The wheelchairs allow the disabled to be a part of the economic and social life of the community and the tricycles assist students with disabilities to make it to school. The production of motorized wheelchairs has just begun, for enhanced mobility. These have all been distributed through the JSC network in the provinces, or bought for distribution by NGOs.
Metta Karuna (loving kindness) program offers various services to the poor in the countryside, through five regional offices. School buildings are improved, teachers trained and given allowances, and village libraries and training courses sponsored. The neediest receive help with school fees, bicycles, and school packs. Also, simple houses are provided for the poor and for those with disabilities. Additional services provide wells, ponds, and toilets. There is also the Metta Karuna Reflection Center in Siem Reap.
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