Imagine a beautiful little tropical country with tall palm trees, green flowing rice fields, white sandy beaches and smiling brown faces. Enter the Vietnam war, bombing, destruction, communists, genocide, starvation, and death. Add the Buddhist religion and spirit worship.
Now you have Cambodia. Cambodia is still recovering from years of concentration camps and genocide under the communist Khmer Rouge. Education and medical care are still developing.
There are no government programs to help people with disabilities, no equal opportunity employment or education, and few NGO’s providing therapy for people with disabilities.
Children and adults with disabilities are some of the most ostracized, abused and neglected people in Cambodia. They are considered of less human value, cursed, and deserving of their disability because of something evil done they must have done in their past life. Many disabled children are hidden away as an embarrassment to the family, and some are abused, forced to beg, or allowed to starve to death.
TTLC is a school for brain injured children in Kampot, Cambodia. TTLC offers intense daily therapy for brain injured children to help each child reach his/her full potential. Our purpose is to proclaim the value of every human being in the eyes of the Creator and to bring HOPE to disabled children in Cambodia.
TTLC achieves this through a day program from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm, including 2 healthy meals, intense physical therapy, education in Khmer, Bible stories, reading, math and science and monthly field trips. TTLC also provides training for parents who live far away or who prefer to do therapy for their brain injured children at home. In addition, TTLC provides room and board and sometimes foster care for disabled children who are rescued out of dangerous or crisis situations.
TTLC currently serves 20 disabled children and young adults. Of our 13 staff, 2 are adults with disability and 4 are parents of disabled children.
All of the children at TTLC are suffering from brain injury caused by complications during birth, high fevers during infancy, accidents affecting the head, near drowning, or defective immunizations. Once the brain is injured in an area, that part of the brain can no longer send messages to the muscles that it is supposed to communicate with. But through therapy, we can train healthy parts of the brain to take over for the injured areas.
To help children with brain injury recover, we provide intense coordination therapy and an opportunity to move around on the floor and learn to crawl to stimulate the brain and strengthen muscles. Our children who cannot see, feel or hear require daily sensory therapy. Some of our older children have been sitting on beds or wheel chairs for many years with no therapy and are now so contracted and twisted that they require hyperbaric therapy, hot water hydrotherapy, craniofacial therapy and deep pressure massage to loosen those tight muscles and give the brain a chance to grow.
At TTLC we desire to see:
• Brain injured children becoming all that God created them to be.
• Brain injured children coming to know their incredible worth in God’s eyes.
• Parents of brain injured children finding hope for their children and becoming involved in helping their children reach their full potential.
• Orphanages and foster parents learning therapy for brain injured children.
• Cambodians accepting and embracing disabled people as valuable with purpose in the community.
Heap and Jennifer Him have served the poor and marginalized in Cambodia with InnerCHANGE for 13 years including work with women and children affected by AIDS and children in crisis situations. While serving in Cambodia they adopted 2 children with severe cerebral palsy (brain injury). Because Cambodia has very few resources for disabled children, Heap and Jennifer attended training for parents of brain injured in the U.S. Then, returning to Cambodia, they began to do their own therapy for their children at home each day, and after five years of intense daily therapy, and much blessing from God, both of their children can now walk and hear, and are learning to talk.
Once they saw such exciting results for their own brain injured children, Heap and Jennifer opened their home to other parents with brain injured children, teaching those parents to do the same daily therapy for their children. As word of mouth spread and more families found their way to the Him’s home looking for help for their brain injured children, TTLC was born.