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04 Aug 2002


A lot of the best aid work is quietly carried out by modest and rather unassuming individuals. Last night we had dinner with one such person, Father Charlie Dittmeier, who we first met in Hong Kong a couple of years ago. He is here with the Maryknoll Mission and spends much of his time working with the deaf. Something of an expert in the field, he has just been appointed to oversee a national program to integrate and expand the country's training for the hearing impaired. It's good to see an appointment being made based on ability rather than connections for a change. He told us about his work and we were surprised to hear that statistically about one percent of any population is deaf and about ten percent have significant hearing problems - that's a lot of people, even in a small country like Cambodia. It was great to chat with him and swap stories, especially as we don't get to meet many westerners these days. In fact, we felt curiously out of place in the restaurant which was located in the local equivalent of Thamel, the backpackers' ghetto in Kathmandu. Good Khmer food though, and nice laid back service and atmosphere.