On the path to learning – Kaka’s Story

September 2020

When Kaka’s parents divorced, her mum moved to another province in search of work and left Kaka in the care of her Grandma Naret. Today Naret and Kaka live together onsite at a local water company in Battambang, where Naret works.

After meeting Kaka and Naret, Naret agreed to enrol Kaka into CCT’s Youth Centre preschool so she could access her basic needs six days a week. CCT staff quickly realised Kaka was non-verbal and thought she may even have been deaf. The CCT Youth Centre medical staff noticed she had a scar on her chest, so teachers knew she’d had some type of surgery when she was younger. Naret had little information about Kaka’s birth history or medical history and had never received a diagnosis about Kaka’s hearing.

For the last three years, it has been CCT and Naret’s joint goal to get Kaka enrolled in public school. At present, the majority of public schools in Cambodia do not accept students with learning disabilities. So the team started on a plan with Naret to get Kaka accepted into the one specialist school for deaf and blind children in Battambang.

For Kaka to start at this school, she would require an official diagnosis that she was deaf. Since services to receive this diagnosis are non-existent in Battambang, Naret and Kaka’s social worker agreed that the best option would be for CCT’s Medical Outreach team to accompany Kaka to the children’s hospital in Siem Reap for testing.

In 2019, Naret finally received an official diagnosis from doctors in Siem Reap. Hospital tests confirmed Kaka was partially deaf with 10% hearing in one ear, and 6% in the other. There is still no way to access Kaka’s birth history, but doctors suspect she may have been born with a hole in her heart, and complications from surgery affected her hearing abilities.

Having this diagnosis was monumental for Naret, who could now enrol Kaka into a school that specialises in sensory care and are equipped to support her development. In her first three months at public school, Kaka has started learning the alphabet and how to count. She is also starting to learn Khmer sign language, which will help her communicate better with her teachers, peers and Naret. The school has provided her with a hearing aid, which has been invaluable to Kaka’s educational development and learning so far.

CCT has covered the costs of Kaka’s public school enrolment and provided her with a new uniform, bag, books and shoes. On the days she is not at school, weekends or school holidays, Kaka will come back to CCT’s Youth Centre and join the programs. CCT will continue supporting the family and make sure Naret has everything she needs to raise and support Kaka.

Every child deserves an education.

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