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CNVLD Cambodian Women of Courage

The CNVLD is pleased to commence a new series: “CNVLD Cambodian Women of Courage” which will profile all the members of the recently established CNVLD Cambodian Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Program.

The story of the recently appointed CNVLD Senior Coach for the CNVLD Wheelchair Basketball Program, Ms Sieng Sorchan, clearly shows how powerful sport can be to effect positive change in the life of an individual and Sieng Sorchan has really come up against all the odds and despite that she stands tall and we are proud to tell her story as the first installment of CNVLD Women of Courage series
As CNVLD Secretary-General Christopher Minko says, “when you work with someone like Sorchan you learn very quickly not to feel sorry for yourself and you realize the remarkable courage that is within an individual when you understand the horror of what Sorchan has been through and how she has successfully overcome these difficulties – HOW ? – Through the power of sport ! (Donors take note !)"

CNVLD Women of Courage - Part 1: Ms Sieng Sorchan
29 year old Sieng Sorchan became disabled at the age of 14, in 1997, when caught in factional fighting between government forces and the remnants of the Khmer Rouge forces. While trying to get food at the Central market in Battambang province where she lives with her father, who was disabled through a landmine during the Cambodian conflicts, Sorchan was caught in the crossfire and a bullet entered her spine leaving her unable to walk. Sorchan comes from a poor farmer’s family who are without land and at the age of 20 she married only to find that she had entered into a horrendous relationship of physical domestic violence that she endured for 8 years before divorcing her husband . Sorchan has an eight year old son from this marriage who lives with her.

In Sorchan words, “I was very sad when I got disabled (shot) because here a lot of discrimination. I was never happy in my life and my marriage was terrible but since I know CNVLD I change now”.

In 2007 Sochan become the first female athlete to join the CNVLD wheelchair Racing program and quickly proved to be one of the nation’s leading racers along with showing great leadership skills which led to her being appointed the coach of the Battambang all women wheelchair Racing team. “My mind is now very good and I'm happy because I can “Stand Up “by myself and now not get so much discrimination from other people like before and now I can play sport like non-disabled people”

From her winnings at the annual CNVLD wheelchair races and with her CNVLD coaches salary, Sorchan has managed to save enough money to buy a sewing machine and set up her own business which brings in a small but important regular income through sewing clothes and carry bags, Sorchan is now starting to design her own clothes and is developing a market for her product in Battambang province.

Due to Sorchans maturity, commitment, discipline and strength as a leader, she has been appointed as the Senior Coach of the new CNVLD program, The CNVLD Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Program and she will work under the supervision of Ms Tata, The CNVLD Wheelchair Basketball Program manager.

CNVLD Women of Courage: Part 2 ”Tata’s story”
Ms Khuon Sochunthea : CNVLD Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Program Manager

Ms Khuon Sochunthea, known as “Tata”, came to the CNVLD when she volunteered as a commentator for the 2007 Phnom Penh WOVD Volleyball World Cup. Tata did an excellent job and continued to work as a volunteer on CNVLD activities in order to gain work experience until she became a full time staff member of the CNVLD in 2010.

Tata is the youngest in a family of 6 children and became infected with Polio at the age of 2 which has resulted in a severely deformed left leg. Tata can only walk by wearing a heavy, bulky and very uncomfortable orthotic device. With Polio victims, the muscles weaken rapidly once a Polio sufferer reaches late adolescence and many polio survivors unfortunately end up in a wheelchair when they simply don’t have the muscle strength or the will to attempt to walk anymore. Tata is exceptionally stubborn (and courageous) and refuses to get into a wheelchair; “I will walk for as long as I can” she says despite the obvious pain that she experiences each day.

Cambodia, like so many nations, places great value of the physical beauty of a woman which makes life even more difficult for a woman afflicted by Polio

Tata describes miserable years during her early schooling “I meet a lot of people that discriminate against me, they laugh at me and I am very sad and then feel so shy that I don’t want to go out anymore”. Despite the discrimination Tata continued with her studies having few friends and experiencing discrimination at school. Tata says “sometimes when I was walking people stared at me and they have even laughed at me”.

Tata then goes on to describe a moment of momentous change in her life “Then I meet the CNVLD and everything change. The CNVLD has made me strong and I am learning to become a leader. and now I have a lot of friends and people don’t discriminate against me like before”.

With training from the CNVLD Tata has become a very effective leader of the CNVLD athletes including the day to day management of the Volleyball and wheelchair athletes. Tata doesn’t mince words and uses her new found strength to encourage other persons with a disability to stop feeling sorry for themselves and to get on with their life.

Then Tata took a step that required enormous courage. In 2010, Tata recorded a song with Phnom Penh based band Krom including performing in a video where she not only showcases her ability but also walks on stage in the video where all viewers can clearly see that she is disabled.

Tata the Pop Star
The Krom video featuring Tata can be viewed on You Tube at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYDnJxbNfpw

Tata is the first Cambodian person with a Disability to enter into the Cambodian entertainment industry and the krom video is shown on a regular basis on Cambodian TV and Tata is now a recognized Pop Star in Cambodia and she proudly shows the ability of Cambodians with a Disability through her performance

In Tata’s Words “Now I can show the world who I am “

Tata will be responsible for the management of all aspects of the newly established CNVLD Wheelchair Basketball Program and the CNVLD is very confident in her ability to lead this program and be a role model for the women with a disability of Cambodia.

WomenSport International
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