Rattanak (centre) communicates with family members in their home in Kandal province, Cambodia.
Rattanak (28) is deaf and caught polio aged five, which has affected his mobility. He had an isolated childhood, unable to communicate with his family or community until being introduced to the Deaf Development Program (DDP), a Caritas Australia partner, based in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.
Most students in DDP spend two years learning Khmer sign language, literacy, numeracy and life skills then spend a year on a job training course such as sewing, cooking, barbering, wood carving, metal crafts, electrical fan repairing, beauty and hair dressing. The aim is to give deaf people a path to an independent future.
Rattanak attended the DDP in 2009 and graduated as a barber in 2012. He set up his barbershop outside his family home, which has since proven to be highly successful.
Rattanak lives with his father Chheng, his mother Ki and his wife Phirom in Kandal province, about an hours drive from Phnom Penh.
He married his wife Phirom in 2016 after an introduction and talking through social media. RICHARD WAINWRIGHT/CARITAS AUSTRALIA