KAKA’S STORY

KAKA'S STORY

Kaka, 7, lives with her grandmother Naret, 54. When Kaka’s parents divorced, Kaka’s mum moved to another province in search of work and left Kaka in the care of Naret. Naret and Kaka live onsite at a local water company in Battambang, where Naret works.

We got this case three years ago, after a family friend notified CCT of this family’s vulnerable situation. Kaka was subsequently enrolled 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. She has 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. Because we’d been unsuccessful in enrolling her into a standard public school, 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, Grandma finally received an official diagnosis from doctors in Siem Reap that Kaka was partially deaf. Hospital tests confirmed she has 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 that complications from surgery affected her hearing

abilities.

Having this diagnosis was monumental for Grandma, who could now enrol Kaka into a school that specialises in sensory care and are equipped to support her development. When Kaka took the massive leap on her first day at public school, CCT social workers and Grandma were by her side ensuring she had all the support she needed.

In 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 Grandma. 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 Grandma has everything she needs to raise and support Kaka.

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