Interview with Jodie, Director of EmbraceAbility. We discuss Movemeon’s pandemic response, how Embrace Ability utilised free support during the crisis and what effect the pandemic has had on this Director.
In reaction to the outbreak of COVID-19, Movemeon deployed a pandemic response initiative titled, Consultants Against COVID-19 (CAC). This initiative comprises of 400+ consultants and commercial professionals providing their services for free to support any charities, public sector and other not for profit organisations in need.
45+ professionals have currently been placed with a variety of public health organisations, charities and government at the national level. If you are in need of support email firstname.lastname@example.org
“Movemeon’s pandemic response initiative, Consultants Against COVID provided us with invaluable support during the crisis.”
In your own words, please describe what EmbraceAbility does, and how they have grown.
EmbraceAbility is a small organisation delivering services on Koh Dach Island, and wider Phnom Penh, Cambodia. EmbraceAbility has developed a range of services to empower disabled and disadvantaged children and their families to live with dignity and independence, so that they may contribute and participate fully in an inclusive community. Our mission is to provide families with tailored therapy, care and support while fostering inclusive communities through education, sports and the promotion of disability rights.
We’ve come a long way in the little over 2 years we have been operating. EmbraceAbility’s first programme, our Community Outreach Programme, began by providing occupational therapy to 15 disabled children. We now provide comprehensive COVID-19 emergency relief to 111 people, inclusive jiu-jitsu classes to more than 40 children, and we are preparing for the opening of our Daycare and Rehabilitation Centre, the first of its kind on Koh Dach Island.
What is your current role at EmbraceAbility and what were you doing before?
I’m the Founder and CEO of EmbraceAbility. Before founding the organisation, I lived overseas in Cambodia and Vietnam working with disabled children in various residential care institutions.
What motivated you to join EmbraceAbility, and what do you enjoy most about working there?
My main motivation for founding EmbraceAbility was my experience working with disabled children in institutions in Vietnam and Cambodia. I was horrified by what I saw. Up to eight million children live in orphanages across the world, despite more than 90% having at least one living parent. Disabled children are overwhelmingly represented, and can remain in institutionalised care the whole of their lives.
It is common practice for disabled children to live in an institution where teaching materials, disability aids and physiotherapy techniques go back 30 years. Even the patient care model, which focuses only on physiotherapy, rarely includes any play, entertainment or personal support.
I was committed to building a family-centric service in Cambodia, in which families were given the means, tools and confidence to care for disabled children. At EmbraceAbility we work with families for their children to be cared for at home by offering home therapy, education and support to the families. Disabled children are often overlooked in development policies at EmbraceAbility we are making efforts to make sure that doesn’t happen on Koh Dach Island. Our holistic approach means disabled children can live at homes with their families ensuring every child is given the best opportunity.
The thing that I enjoy most about my job is seeing the looks on children’s faces, and the faces of their families, when they achieve something they never thought possible. This might be walking unassisted, feeding oneself, or engaging in a sport or social event that had always been denied to them.
Movemeon’s pandemic response initiative, Consultants against COVID (CAC) supported you recently, how did our pro bono consultants help you?
Rishta Bhagawan, our CAC consultant has been a real asset to the EmbraceAbility team. She has helped us with financial strategy and advising the charity on how we can improve our services so we are able to reach more beneficiaries on Koh Dach Island. Having consultants join the team is hugely beneficial during a time when our resources are overstretched and the demand in our services has doubled. We are very grateful to Rishta dedicating her time and expertise to the project and we look forward to welcoming more consultants to the team in the near future.
“Its been great to support Embrace Ability”
– Rishta Bhagawan
How has this worldwide pandemic affected you personally/your work life?
My caffeine consumption has probably doubled! We are only a small team at EmbraceAbility which means we have never been busier! The team’s dedication and passion to the community are admirable and our motto ‘review, respond, adapt’ has been well-used this year!
What are you most looking forward to doing once social distancing rules have been relaxed?
I’m looking forward to flying to Cambodia and meeting the children we work with. I can’t wait to see them all attending school when they reopen and getting stuck into our new inclusive sports programmes.
Read more inspiring stories from Movemeon’s pandemic response: Consultants against COVID-19