Proving our We Can Do images and messages
The New Horizons Society (NHS) is a unique organization in Cambodia. We are founded and run by disabled people ourselves, operating on the principle of self-advancement rather than welfare. Key actions put positive focus on ability, empowerment and inclusion. These actions literally open up new horizons for each of our members, hence the choice of name and logo.
Our members are families living with disability - physical, sensory or psycho-social - or similar social disadvantage in local communities. All take part in a self-assessment poverty assessment tool to qualify for support and which is then used to track their progress towards better lasting lives and livelihoods. Even when members have achieved better standards, they are encouraged to stay on as role-models and to enhance advocacy.
Our Origins and Growth
NHS emerged as the successful implementation of a fore-sighted and innovative project begun in 2002 by UK Charity "Landmine Disability Support" (LMDS) which was generously funded by the UK-DfiD Challenge Fund and the Government of Ireland. It was the first to incorporate real delegated decision-making to beneficiaries from the outset, paving the way almost from Day 1 for what is now our own localized organization. Evidence of that power-dimension is that our early beneficiaries went against conventional "wisdom". All the experts believed families had to be assisted out of poverty before they would have any real active interest in advocacy. So the livelihood improvement programme was expected to run one year ahead of the advocacy one. Our members though said "We are used to being hungry; we can see advocacy can help us do something to solve our problems, we don't want to wait!" So we didn't. Our first advocacy campaign, for disabled children to go to school, took place even before the first grant for the livelihood programme was received.
CBM gave us kindly that first grant for the livelihood programme. They have been followed by Australia with three awards from its community development and landmine victim funds. Australia gave another grant that opened up the small Computer Training Facility with 8 trainee placements that has been so successful, it has led to our creating "Life-changing Opportunities" programme". Australia also placed a highly successful agricultural and entrepreneurial technical consultant. The Diana Fund became the second largest donor, after UK-DfiD, in 2005.
From 2002 to 2008, the network built up to 109 self-help groups with 2,636 members when we "localized". The period allowed us to develop and refine methodology which has been independently attested by external evaluators and auditors. Almost all our members have emerged from poverty or are in the process. We form the largest active membership of disabled people in the country, a powerful force for advocacy. The story of how NHS had to establish itself quickly in late 2008 is told in the attached paper.