Home > Local News > Phone hotline aids bridge survivors

Phone hotline aids bridge survivors

Memorial photos of victims who died in the bridge stampede are placed on the ground near the Diamond Island bridge. Photo by: Heng Chivoan
FREE telephone counselling services have been launched to give
emotional support to people affected by the Diamond Island bridge
disaster.

Run by the NGO Social Services of Cambodia, the phone lines are open seven days a week, four hours a day.

A
trial project was launched successfully in December and the second
phase will begin next month, said Ellen Minotti, director of Social
Services of Cambodia.

The initiative has the support of AusAID, the Australian Agency for International Development, she said.

Adverts
for the service have been running on radio 102FM and 103FM, Minotti
added. “Counselling and emotional support was seen positively by
callers to radio stations, telling about their recovery from trauma and
many suggested the program should be extended,” she said.

In its
first month, the service had about 20 calls, mostly from men who
survived the accident that killed 351 people and injured 395 in a
stampede on November 22.

Other callers included victims’
families and onlookers who were horrified by the unforgettable
accident, said Eng Vanny, a trainer with Social Services of Cambodia.

“Many
callers are in a serious situation because of their pain and
depression. Several patients can’t get rid of the images from their
brains. Some survivors still feel regret that they couldn’t help others
begging them for help. Parents sometimes blamed their children for
going there or victims’ families feel sorry that they allowed their
children to go there alone,” she added.

Eng Vanny said that
telephone counselling could help survivors in ways that couldn’t be
measured, allowing them to share experiences and reducing the chance of
suicide.

“We give callers the chance for them to talk about
their feelings in that situation without a time limit. If they ask for
direct counselling, we can also help them because we have 15 staff
members available,” said Ouk Bunthoeurn, a team leader and trainer for
Social Services of Cambodia.

The group had professional trained staff working in its counselling and emotional support program, said Ouk Bunthoeurn.

“Callers
can cry freely when they want. We are patient in listening to them. We
counsel and support their emotions without judgement, but we try to
give them ideas to cope and let them choose the outcome themselves,” he
said.

Social Services of Cambodia’s Minotti said that online
counselling services may be developed later, and the phone line’s hours
may be extended if caller numbers rise.

The hotline number in Khmer is 078 767 559 between 9am and 11am and from 2pm to 4pm. Calls are free within the Mobitel network.

Phnom Penh Post
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Categories: Local News
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