Friday, 13 November 2009

Beach-House Orphans (and one who was not)

Today, Kmao arrived from the northern Cambodian town of Battambang with his mother and baby sister in tow. As a child he had left home unable to bear the poverty and hardship, and took up with a troupe of military police in Phnom Penh. They were deployed to the beach at Sihanoukville, where their commander brought Kmao to our orphan beach-house and, impressed that we had TV, determined that our house was a more suitable place for this "orphan" than a spartan soldier's camp.

Now college-educated and engaged to be married, Kmao a couple days ago returned to Battambang to find the mother circumstances had forced him to keep secret all these years, and the baby sister he had never met. His mother, a divorced farmer with 5 children, will travel with Kmao to Phnom Penh tomorrow to meet his fiancee and Naly, the orphanage director who adopted Kmao when the beach-house closed down and has lovingly raised him since.

In the blue shirt is Va Morgan, another former beach-house resident, now married with 2 sons and the Director of Bio-Technology at the Angkor Hospital for Children, Siem Reap's best pediatric hospital. The previous director of this hospital was Jon Morgan, a very accomplished nurse from Hawaii who came to Cambodia in the 90's to help me take Cambodia World Family into a leader in adult literacy in Cambodia (work which Airline Ambassadors International will help continue). He now directs The Lake Clinic, a floating health center in the Tonle Sap, Cambodia's huge central lake. Kmao took the opportunity to reconnect with 2 college friends, now lawyers. Sokha Sen, nephew of Chanthy Yi, is shown next to Va, with his wife. Harold and Christy are the other "barang", or foreigners, in the photo.
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(Dr Daniel Susott, AAI Medical Director)

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