Wednesday, 10 September 2003

Rome (Fides Service) – The Marist Brothers, whose charisma is care and teaching for youth, have opened a Catholic school for disabled children in Cambodia 8 km south of Phnom Penh, the capital. At present La Valla School has 95 young pupils with various disabilities aged from 6 to 16. Fides Service spoke with Stefano Ortonoli, head of the project department of the Bureau for International Solidarty BIS who illustrated the programme.
The purpose is to improve the life quality of disabled children by means of physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and by providing them with artificial limbs and wheel chairs. For those unable to attend secondary school the programmes offers the opportunity to learn a trade also as a means of growing in self esteem.
Many of the children at the school are orphans or have been abandoned by their parents because of their disability. Some are the victims of polio, others of congenital disabilities; others were judged to be too disabled to attend school or get a job. The staff of 18 includes 7 teachers with disabilities. The La Valle Programme launched and supported by the Australian Marist Province in Sydney was started in 1998 while Cambodia was experiencing a civil war which destroyed many national infrastructures and increased the already critical situation of poverty of millions of Khmer. Many of the volunteers involved in the programme are Australians. The school takes it s name from the French village of La Valla where Saint Marcel Champagnat, the founder began this sort of assistance 200 years ago. The aim of the school is to offer children with disabilities the same opportunities as pupils at regular state schools. AP (Fides Service 10/9/2003 EM lines 29 Words: 377)

Info: Marist Brothers
The Marist Brothers, founded by Marcel Champaganat in France in 1817, look after abandoned children with no prospects for the future.. Today Marist Brothers work in 74 different countries, mainly among young people, where situations are most difficult where they run schools, youth associations and centres, involving families and teachers who collaborate with this Education programme. (Fides Service 10/9/2003 EM lines 38 Words: 478)