SYNOPSIS: The inhabitants of a diseased Locomotive depot in the capital of the Khmer Republic Phom Penh, are a grim reminder of the horrors of war.
SYNOPSIS: The inhabitants of a diseased Locomotive depot in the capital of the Khmer Republic Phom Penh, are a grim reminder of the horrors of war. The depot is occupied by hundreds of deformed and crippled soldiers who have emerged from more than three and half years of war.
War came to the Khmer Republic in May Nineteen Seventy when American and South Vietnamese forces invaded what were thought to be Communist sanctuaries in eastern Cambodia. American involvement ended in August this year. Thousands of Khmers were left homeless by the war.
Under the Government's rehabilitation programme, soldiers who lost one leg or an arm receive just under their full monthly salaries. Those who lost to limbs receive full salaries, and those who lost all their limbs receive slightly more.
After leaving hospital, the crippled soldiers go to a military hospital in Phnom Penh, where they undergo therapeutic treatment to restore the use of their crippled limbs. Official estimates put the total number of soldiers wounded since nineteen seventy at about fifteen thousand. Of these some four thousand were crippled, including about seven hundred left entirely without limbs.
The treatment is the most tedious party of the rehabilitation programme. The aim is to enable the crippled soldiers to learn manual skills. But lack of money and primitive facilities makes for slow progress.
The crippled soldiers go on to six month vocational training course at the Invalid Headquarters. They have the choice of learning sewing, metal work, carpentry, painting, farming and raising animals. Most of the things they produce, such as artificial limbs, clothing and furniture, are used to help the rehabilitation programme.
The lack of money has severely hindered the development of the rehabilitation programme. The present schemes are regarded as trials. The Government has plans for a large wooden hostel to accommodate about two thousand crippled soldiers in the north west part of Phnom Penh. But no money has yet been allocated for the project. The Government is considering making loans from private business, and monopolising the sale of cigarettes to provide more funds for the crippled soldiers.
But foreign correspondents have suggested that because the training facilities are inadequate, the crippled soldiers will not necessarily be able to support themselves once they leave the training centre.