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.
(Dr Daniel Susott, AAI Medical Director)

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