Year Joined MKLM: 2012
City: Pnom Penh
Focus: Help to empower Deaf people in Cambodia
Nancy is originally from the San Francisco, CA area but has been living in the Northwest for 33 years. She has four children and four grandchildren. She has studied Business, Economics, Accounting, Music and American Sign Language. She worked as a Personal Banker and Branch Manager. She has sung in church choirs for many years and more recently has volunteered at the Journey of the Heart Ministries and women’s shelter at her parish of St. Michael Catholic Church. She also volunteered at the Thurston County Food Bank. She has been on mission trips to Malawi and Mexico. She loves art and music and has played with collage, batik, pottery, glass fusion, glass blowing and jewelry making.
Her vast experience has led her to to become the Finance Manager at the Deaf Development Program (DDP) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. This program is growing rapidly, there has been an increase of 20 people in staff positions in the Community Development. Their outreach has expanded to 2 additional provinces.
Nancy describes the challenges of the deaf in Cambodia by saying, “The deaf people of Cambodia have little identity as a deaf or language identity group. It is estimated that 97 percent of deaf people in Cambodia have never received any form of education, never had an opportunity to develop a language and have never met another deaf person. The result is that there is no representative voice coming from the deaf themselves. They do not have the confidence, skills or capacity to develop by themselves. Their problems are further compounded by a lack of understanding of deaf people throughout society. A lack of resources means that parents of a deaf child have no access to information about deafness, deaf culture or sign language in order to support their child. The majority of deaf children grow up totally reliant on their families yet exist on the fringe of their family and the community with no means of acquiring language, education, a livelihood and independence.”
She mentions that, “Here at DDP the deaf are supplied with sign language classes, basic education, social services, job training and community activities. Here they can develop a language and communicate, make friends, learn about the world and themselves, contribute to the community and develop independence.”
She goes on to say that, “Working in the Finance Department, I hope to evaluate the accounting practices to keep things running smoothly. I will also work with the Program Manager to assure that the Project Managers are developing good work plans and budgets. We must always be aware of our donors and what reports and audits they require in order to keep them participating in our work here.
Getting to know the staff and students is also important. I hope to listen and learn from them as much as I hope to encourage and help them. I am very interested in the Community Development Project and have started participating in their outings and get-togethers. This is such an important part of the learning process for any deaf student. They are learning a new language and here they can practice and meet new people from the community in a relaxed, fun atmosphere. They discuss items of interest from the newspaper, play soccer, play games or watch a movie, participate in crafts or art, learn from a presentations on a variety of subjects. All of this is raising their awareness of the world around them as well as helping them develop social skills.”