Weh Yeoh, Class of 1999: Voice to the voicelessdeveloper
The former Archer house vice-captain and prefect founded a charity in Cambodia in 2013 after travelling there, falling in love with the country and discovering the widespread problem of communication difficulties, caused variously by autism, intellectual disability, stuttering and swallowing problems.
A Day Without Speech, which he piloted at Trinity, has now raised over $80 000 to bring speech therapy to Cambodia, where over 600 000 people, or one in 25, have difficulty communicating.
Many of them are children, and the funds raised from parents and friends through sponsored silence is aimed at getting them into therapy early so they can thrive at school, socialise and enter the workforce before they can be “cast away from society”.
He credits Trinity with nurturing his inner confidence to tackle such a vast challenge.
“No-one (in Cambodia) was doing anything systematically to help over half a million people in need. It had to be me or nothing,” he said. “There was something within me that I tapped into, the confidence of knowing you are supported, which comes from my schooling at Trinity. It’s intangible but it was helpful for me.”
Weh studied physiotherapy at Sydney University and then did a Masters in Development Studies at UNSW. He is the youngest of three sons who all attended Trinity. The eldest, Kwan, became an orthopaedic surgeon, followed by Lee, who completed a PhD and is now an evolutionary biologist.
“The cultural diversity at Trinity helped me to think about how we are all different. I embraced the difference,” he said. “Embedded in me is a respect and politeness for others, regardless of who they are.”