After seeing the inequality and lack of consideration for people with disability in Delhi and India generally, Michael Barrett, Soulcial Trust’s founder, set up the NGO. His objective was to seek ways together with the community to help raise awareness about the needs of people with disability. He initiated in the first place, XLability, a programme to help promote disability rights through sports. The goal was to put accessibility at the forefront of society’s mind to help improve the lives of people with disability in India and beyond. He created the NGO in 2014 in New Delhi and set up a branch in Siem Reap, Cambodia, soon after.
Cambodia experienced one of the most horrific destructions of a people’s culture, economy, and social fabric because of civil war and the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge. It is slowly regaining its strength in a region of fast- growing economies.
An estimated 4.7% of the Cambodian population live with a disability. However, without a proper census of rural areas, it is difficult to estimate the actual number who are disabled. Children with disabilities meet many challenges regarding access to education. Actually, only 10% of them attend school. One study in Cambodia’s Kandal province illustrated that 43% of children with disabilities are illiterate compared to 9% of children without disabilities.
In addition, individuals with disabilities encounter more difficulties finding jobs than those without disabilities. This could be due to their inaccessibility to training, the lack of education, and a scarcity of job opportunities. Statistics from 2004 indicate that people with disabilities in Cambodia generally earn a salary 65% less than people without the same challenges.
These statistics are not so different from those of other developing countries in the region and worldwide, where the huge disparities in the lives and treatment of individuals with disabilities are rooted in social stigma and the absence of education, jobs, and health care.
Moreover, another concern that caught our attention as a NGO is the environmental situation in Cambodia. Like many countries in Asia and throughout the world, Cambodia struggles with environmental protection and preservation.
Our mission is to raise awareness about social issues and causes for disability issues and environmental concerns. Soulcial Trust harnesses the collaborative spirit of community to transform. We believe that every actor—whether an individual or organization—that participates in an initiative adds value towards achieving our common goal of a social, soulful society.
We strongly believe that sports and education are fundamental for drawing people with disabilities into the fabric of society. Often viewed as outcasts or unrecognised for their strength of character our goal is to empower the community of people with disabilities through the values, challenges, and ethics of sports. We intend to break the cycle of isolation that too often characterises the lives of people with physical disabilities, especially in low income and rural communities.
Education is also at the core of our concerns to address issues regarding environment. We want to educate young people about the importance of practicing sustainable behavior to improve their communities.
XLability aims to raise awareness about the issues people with physical or mental disabilities face in Cambodia.
We develop adaptive sports for people of all abilities to promote social inclusion and empowerment.
We also want to educate young people through our educational programme on disability awareness to eradicate social stigma against people with disability.
Green Influence aims to raise awareness about environmentally sustainable practices and issues that affect Cambodia.
We collaborate with businesses and NGOs to implement and improve strategies to reduce their impact on the environment.
Through our educational programme, we educate and empower the young generation about the importance of practicing sustainable behavior.