Thursday, 19 July 2012

Rabbits - Rabbit School (Phnom Penh)

The Rabbit School; I wonder why this school that caters to people with special needs is named after the Rabbit. I supposed it will have something to do with the significance of Rabbits and I found these explanations to be the most in line with what I would believe.

House rabbits symbolize 'Bravery' as they defend their territory against human, cats or dogs. Rabbits are also seen as 'Service to others', being a 'prey' to predators in real life as well as the 'pray' imagery when they bring their paws in front of their faces to wash themselves. Rabbit as a companion to human beings has also been seen as teaching one about 'Unconditional love' and 'Compassion for life'. Finally, rabbits have the symbolical meaning of 'Playfulness' and 'Joy'.  ~

Certainly, these are what I actually learn from these people with special needs after working with them for the past 5 over years.

The Rabbit School is founded in May 1997. It is located within the premise of National Borey for Infants and Children, and is the only school in Cambodia that caters to children and people with special needs. The school is located in Phnom Penh and thus the students may come from all provinces of Cambodia. There are also mainstream schools that included students with special needs that the Rabbit School work closely with in order to allow these people with special needs to have the best services they can.

After speaking to the Head Teacher, Mr Hun Touch, I sensed his struggles to equip the teachers and staff with the necessary skills to work with the children as well as his worries for the future and quality of the programs for the students due to possible lack of funds in the coming years. 

Mr Hun Touch welcomes support and help in the following aspects (however, this list is not exhaustive)

1) Teacher and staff training/ sharing by trained personnel
- Most of the staff in the Centre are not certified. They are very versed in the practical aspects of working
  with the students, however they need more theoretical knowledge of people with special needs such as
  understanding what Autism is about.

2) Fund raising (work on how they can raise more funds)
- Currently, some of the projects such as the Rabbit Cafe had to stop functioning in the town of Phnom Penh
  due to funding issues from donors.

3) Volunteers
- The Centre is hoping to have a constant pool of volunteers who can help out with working on the children

Pre-vocational training at Rabbit Cafe - Paper Beads Bear

How can you help?
Please do not hesitate to get in touch with me if you think you have any ideas/ organisations/ projects/ people who can help the Centre in providing for the children with special needs. Like what Mr Hun Touch had also said, it all starts from advocacy, with the awareness, help will come more easily.

The next time you are in Cambodia, I will urge all of you to drop by the Centre to volunteer your service.

“Accept the children the way we accept trees—with gratitude, because they are a blessing—but do not have expectations or desires. You don’t expect trees to change, you love them as they are.”  ~ Isabel Allende

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