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Neath’s Voice Journey

The magical moment happened when I participated in a Sign Language for All event at the mall and happily engaged in the fun learinng activities— it was also the first time I got to know some of the partners in person! I joined the group with our deaf friend, with a 20-dollar coupon to purchase any items at the mall, but the condition is that we have to learn the sign language for those items. I enjoyed learning sign language as it was new to me and was happy with shopping stuff at the same time. Although I am new to the team, I felt warmth and welcome. Our deaf friend took care of me and tried to engage with me in sign language; it felt like we have known each other for a long time. We ate cake, had some chitchat and shared what we learned.  What impressed me the most was the storytelling about a deaf friend and their struggles, which I had never heard of. I had too little knowledge about the deaf community and it was a rare opportunity to be able listen to how they overcame life’s challenges thus far. Despite her difficulties and disability, she overcame them, accepted reality and tried to live her life to the fullest and enjoy the moment. That’s an inspiring story.


Learning my name in sign language
Learning my name in sign language


The fact that Voice is making an effort to assist a vulnerable group is something that I appreciate, and it is via Voice I can learn about diversity.


There was another experience I found inspiring, when the Voice Cambodia team did a monitoring visit and joined the film screening by Bophana on the issue of early marriage within indigenous communities. Memories from children arise…


“Girls seem to have no choices to make in life and few opportunities to engage while they grow up and marry their husbands to become dependent. Cultural norms limited women to join school completely. Cultural barriers forced women to stay home to do housework, learn cooking, look after children, more housework, and tend to the husband. She wouldn’t do anything to further her life beside relying on her husband, since she only finished high school and did not have the chance to go to university. It is so heard for girls to fight back and move forward because of this, and can’t convince their parents to let them go to school. Women who were able to graduate, get good jobs, live well, and give back to their community are so rare, so girls don’t have role models as they grow.”


I’m glad that this issue is being discussed and attention is given to girls, giving them an encouragement to set their goals, act towards these goals, and to follow their dreams. When a girl gets education, it can lead to accessing opportunities, the freedom to manage her finances, have independent income, not letting anyone limit her rights. Knowledge is a potent tool for transformation and powerful change, it helps you test out your power to create your goal and achieve your dream with action and commitment.


I hope to see more girls and women staying inspired, strong and able to make their own decisions and lead their way to doors leading to opportunities.

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