Susan Sporl

COUNTRY: Cambodia
CITY: Phnom Penh
FOCUS: Healthcare
PROJECT: Social Services Advisor for Deaf Development Program
PEOPLE SERVED: Approximately 40 deaf clients and their families
GOALS: to meet the emotional needs of the poorest of deaf Cambodian people and to provide them with access to basic physical, health, and legal resources

After earning her Masters in Social Work from UCLA in 1984, Susan Sporl enjoyed a successful career which included running her own private practice in psychological counseling and support. She joined MKLM from St. Leo’s Parish in Tacoma, Washington, in the Diocese of Seattle. She was 65 years old when she joined MKLM and was sent to Cambodia, retiring from 25+ years as a clinical social worker, a liberal west coast divorced Catholic woman, and mother of 4 boys in their mid-30s, and 6 grandchildren.

Susan Sporl, a licensed clinical social worker, joined the Deaf Development Program (DDP) in 2009. Susan spearheaded the development of the DDP’s Social Services Program. Her extensive experience was essential to developing the program’s goals, strategic plan and charting forms. Because MKLM missioners are taught the dominant language of their placement country, Susan was been able to create these forms in both Khmer and English.

As the Program Advisor, Susan mentored the DDP’s recently-hired social worker and assisted her with her caseload. Together, the team of two responded to the effects of isolation, discrimination, lack of status in society, lack of identity, and marginalization of deaf people in Cambodia. The team enabled its deaf clients to become leaders of, and advocates for, the deaf community by helping them to grow in positive self-awareness, learn clear communication skills, develop ways of coping with and reducing stress, and build healthy relationships. Susan and her coworker also provided participants with access to medical and legal services, schedule interpreters for them, and taught them how to advocate for themselves.

Because MKLM donors ensure Susan’s presence in her ministry, deaf people and their families for the first time, received psychological counseling and support. Susan managed crisis situations and served as a conduit to healthcare and legal services. She collaborated closely with the project managers of the DDP’s other five program areas, seamlessly integrating her efforts with theirs in order to create a comprehensive plan for her clients. She also collaborated with local non-governmental organizations to secure and coordinated the access to outside resources. The team enabled its deaf clients to become leaders of, and advocates for, the deaf community.

More than half of the program’s participants had families that also received the DDP’s services. The social workers met with parents or other guardians to provide information on how best to address the needs of the deaf family member.

She retired from MKLM age 69 as her grandchildren were all growing up fast and it was important for her to be an involved Grandma. She moved from WA to TX to be near hyer grandchildren. She lives in Grapevine, between Dallas and Fort Worth, TX.

She is active in the local Maryknoll Affiliates North Texas chapter, and our primary focus is providing a pre and post mission formation program for parishes going on short term mission trips to Central America. We have monthly meetings with spiritual development and business/planning. Our Affiliate leader is Ken Eppes and he can be contacted for copies of our formation program including printed and video materials. Please contact the North Texas Affiliate chapter