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This fundraiser ended on 07/04/10

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Going to Cambodia with the Teachers College Speech-Language Pathology International Speech Education program. Goals: gain clinical experience, provide services for local communities and education and training for local healthcare workers and families

My name is Lara. I am a student at Columbia Teachers College pursuing my M.S. in Speech and Language Pathology. What drew me to this program in particular, aside from the extraordinary faculty and facilities, was the larger commitment to social justice that Teachers College was built upon. The Speech and Language Pathology program at TC offers its students three amazing opportunities to extend the reach of their talents and enthusiasm, with yearly trips to Bolivia, Ghana, and Cambodia – regions that have been identified as having great need of Speech and Language services.

This year, I applied to and was invited to attend this summer’s 3-week trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Cambodia program (ISE-Cambodia) is not directly supported by the College, although it forms part of our training; instead, this program is built on the commitment and efforts of individual faculty members and clinicians, who donate their time and expertise to develop educational and medical speech pathology services in resource-poor regions around the world.

The country of Cambodia is in great need of educational and health services, especially following its recent horrific history of genocide under the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, and the ensuing decades of civil war and unrest. A generation of educated professionals was wiped out, along with all the country's educational and healthcare infrastructure. Although the country is now recovering after decades of educational and social deprivation, even now 40% of the population lives below the poverty line (that is, on less than 45 cents per day), and many children do not receive even basic elementary education.

One in seven children die before their 5th birthday because of malnourishment, unsafe water and disease. Cambodia’s children are therefore at particular risk for hearing, feeding, speech/language and learning impairments, and the effects of poverty and the lack of educational and healthcare facilities are very keenly felt. There have been many international aid efforts, especially targeting medical care and education; however, until now, there has been no concerted effort to provide speech-language pathology services and training in Cambodia.

The TC program therefore aims to provide, not only clinical experience for students like myself, and services for local communities, but also education and training for local healthcare workers and families. This year, 4 supervisory faculty and 8 students will be making the trek from July 14th to August 6th. Our work there will provide much-needed services such as feeding and swallowing assessment and intervention, hearing screenings and referrals, evaluation of language and cognitive skills, intervention and support for children who have problems with talking, listening or understanding language, training for parents and caregivers, and visits to hospitals, orphanages and schools to provide education and support for local people and healthcare professionals.

The program NEVER charges for any of the services provided, and is desperately in need of funds and equipment to maintain practice. Much of the work done so far has been funded from the personal pockets of the faculty overseeing the program, as well as from the students who participate in the program. I have had to personally paid for my airfare and accommodations. My airfare is $2000, plus an additional $500 for accommodations once on site.

I know this is a rough economy to be asking for your help, but anything you can give will help me offset the financial cost of attending a program like this. This year, 4 faculty and 8 students will be traveling to Cambodia. I think the need for our services there is fierce, and that our program can make a real difference in developing programs that will provide help now as well as well into the future of a recovering nation. If you agree, please help send me there! I appreciate any donation you are able to give!

Thank you!

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