THE woman behind Phnom Penh’s first wheelchair-friendly tuktuk hopes to make the world a more accessible place for all.
Power wheelchair user, American Megan Lee Smith, who is studying a Masters degree at the University of Queensland after winning the Rotary Peace Fellowship, came up with the idea after an uncomfortable tour of Cambodia.
“The tuktuk drivers would have to carry me in and then disassemble the chair, which weighed 70kg,’’ she said.
“The fares would be double, and there were times where as a young women I was vulnerable to harassment. (The accessible tuktuk) made an incredible difference in my life in Cambodia.”
In her 27 years, Ms Smith, has travelled and worked in 35 different countries.
Some of her career highlights included working with special-needs children in Peru, volunteering in Costa Rica and creating a wheelchair-accessible tuktuk (small vehicles used as taxis) while living Cambodia.
After some uncomfortable experiences in Phnom Penh, Ms Smith teamed up with accessible House Boutique Hotel owner Keogh Johnston and Engineers Without Borders to build an accessible vehicle.
When she graduates from UQ, Ms Smith said she hoped to work with global businesses to develop more inclusive policies for people with disabilities.
Host Jan Curry, of the Balmoral Rotary Club, said she looked forward to watching Ms Smith’s career progress.