Year Joined MKLM: 2000
City: Phnom Penh
Project(s): Ministry with Deaf People
People Served: 120 students
To empower deaf people to develop their education, language, employment and community, and to raise awareness and understanding of deafness, deaf people, and their culture within Cambodian society.
Russ is originally from Seattle, WA, where he was active in St. Joseph Parish, Archdiocese of Seattle. He is both an accountant and a lawyer. Russ studied at the University of Washington in Seattle and Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. He joined MKLM in 2000 and went to Kenya, where his ministries included serving as the Finance Manager at St. Mary’s School in Nairobi, and then serving as Project Manager for the St. John Bosco Rehabilitation Centre in the diocese of Kitale. The project served children from displaced pastoralist families who had fled from drought and hunger.
In 2016, Russ transferred to Cambodia, focusing on ministry with deaf people. The lives of the deaf in Cambodia are particularly marginalized. According to officials at the World Federation of the Deaf, Cambodia was the only country in the world that did not have any kind of sign language prior to 1996. Unlike other countries, Cambodia also did not have any organizations for the deaf.
Russ works with the Deaf Development Programme in the capital city of Phnom Penh. He utilizes his tremendous administrative and project management skills serving as Program Administrator, supporting the functions of accounting, human resources and donor compliance. The program employs a staff of eighty local individuals, both hearing and deaf people, who provide:
- Basic education to young deaf people
- Job training to develop skills and livelihoods
- Deaf community development
- Sign Language interpretation services
- Cambodian Sign Language research and development
- Social services assistance