Breaking Down Barriers in Cambodia

written by volunteer Meredith Danberg-Ficarelli

Rose Charities Rehabilitation Center stands among other Rose projects as an inspiration and a testament to the drive of individuals to work for the betterment of underprivileged populations. This physiotherapy center just outside Phnom Penh in provides muscular rehabilitation therapy and consultation to young Cambodians. Amputations and limb deformities are common among this population that lived through the brutal Khmer Rouge, and those that survived genocide bear the scars of civil war and trauma.

RCRC has restored mobility to hundreds of people in the city and surrounding area, and was built as a collaboration between Rose Charities and AusAid. Joanna came to Cambodia with the objective of starting a physio clinic in 2009, and RCRC now staffs 7 Physiotherapists, doctors, and administrators. Joanna was awarded the 2011 Rose Charities award for outstanding achievement for the success RCRC has had in assisting Cambodians in need. Cambodian culture ostracizes disabled people, forcing them out of everyday society and often leaving them isolated and depressed. Joanna fights to treat these patients, and break down the stereotypes around them.

Rachel Greene, the Rose Charities US executive director and fundraising coordinator, rasied $800 in 2010 to purchase a new rubber floor for the rehabilitation center, to cover the cement floor previously used to treat patients. This soft floor has since turned into a bit of a play area for local children, and the interaction between disabled children receiving treatment at RCRC and local children has created an integrative effect that otherwise does not occur in Cambodia. Young children play together regardless of physical impairment, and in turn realize the equality amongst themselves.

Since its inception, RCRC has appropriated unused office space from the government-owned hospital where the project is located, and has built a roof over an empty space between buildings to house the rehabilitation area.

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