Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Notes from interview, draft

Got a chance to interview our orphanage directors, Narun and Sophal yesterday. I will rewrite this soon, taking away a bit of the Khmenglish syntax. Enjoy.

Note: some of the information sounds 'negative.' Keep in mind that these kids were without stable homes for most of their lives, and are doing well, considering their struggles.


Narun and Sophal March 13, 2007

During the Pol Pot regime, here parents (father was professor, mother was nurse) were killed. She was about 5 or six years old, and her sister was only 8 months old, so she had to take care of her sister.

After the Pol Pot regime, she lived with her cousin, and she went to school. After some time, she was sent to the ICM orphanage in Kompong Chhnang at about age 10. She lived and studied until she graduated from high school.

While she was at the orphanage, she learned how to make clothes. When UNTAC (United Nations Transitional Authority Counsel) came to Cambodia, she went to work with them. She was twenty years old. After UNTAC left, she went back to work with ICM in Phnom Penh as an orphanage mother in 1994. At first, she did not bring her sister with her, because she was afraid to take her to Phnom Penh, having never been to the city before. After one year, she sent her sister to live with her in PP.

In February 1996, she married Narun, who was working as staff at ICM. July 1, 2006, they were hired by Asia’s Hope. Her sister Sophea also works at Asia’s Hope as a cook.

He was born in Phnom Penh. When he was 5 years old, he remembers his mother telling him that his father worked as a soldier. His mother was a French teacher. During Pol Pot, he lived in Pursat with his mother. In 1978, his parents were imprisoned, and they starved to death. Five of his seven siblings were killed as well. After Pol Pot regime, his aunt, who was also a teacher, adopted him and they lived in Pursat province.

In 1979, at the age of 10, he walked with his whole family for two months from Pursat to Phnom Penh. He began school in 1980. He graduated in 1992 from Tuol Tompong High School. In 1992, he worked with UNTAC in Kandal Province. He began to work with ICM in 1994 in Kompong Chhnang. In 1995, he moved to Phnom Penh, and worked in both PP and KC as an orphanage worker and evangelist, and as a guard at night.

Narun and Sophal want to work with the orphans; they love children, because they were orphans themselves. They know how the kids feel, and can help them through difficult emotional problems. They want to give the kids back everything that was taken from them.

Narun was baptized in 1993. Sophal in December 1994.


R Ccz 1 .


It is difficult to speak English, but they are trying to learn.

Soriya is Narun and Sophal’s oldest child. She is gentle with the children. She loves art, especially origami. She speaks English well, and enjoys school. She shares well with all of the other children. She always wants to be perfect in school, and cries when she fails.

Rosa is very different from Soriya. She doesn’t share as well her sister and can be a bit of a baby. She also wants to do well in school, and hates to fail. She is very affectionate, and loves to get lots of attention.

Vilaiy is very gentle and obedient. He is the oldest in the orphanage. He likes to help with the younger children. He loves to make others happy. He loves music, and plays ‘air piano’ very well. He learns all the new songs he hears, and likes to sing. He doesn’t like to play a lot – he is a serious kid. Vilaiy currently has a cyst on his left ear, he will need minor surgery soon.

Veasna is similar to his brother Vilaiy. He is serious, but kind. He always tells the truth, and he follows advice and direction extremely well.

When he was small, he lived with his uncle, and was beaten by his uncle’s family. As a result, he has some neurological/learning problems. He is having difficulty in school. He is very gentle and kind. He enjoys sports.

Sokheang is probably hyperactive, and is described as tricky – she is very smart and funny, but sometimes steals and lies. Her mind is always spinning, and she has trouble focusing. She had a very difficult time before coming to the orphanage and lived with a very old grandmother who couldn’t supervise her. She learned a lot from the street.

Meerlia is a happy, normally-developing child. She lived in a squatter’s colony, and was very scared when she came to the orphanage. Now she is coming out of her shell, but she is having trouble in school due to her late start.

Channin (Srey Tien):
Srey Tien is smart and obedient. She is polite and humble and kind. She’s a bit of a show-off, and always performing for everyone. She is also very honest.

Srey Ka:
Srey Ka is the oldest girl at the orphanage. Two of her three siblings live at the orphanage. She loves to help, and is always the top student in her class. She is good at writing and English. She loves to read the Bible.

Srey Poa:
Srey Poa is developing normally. She loves her brother and sister, and she is very quiet and gentle. She has some learning difficulties.

Peaktra is the best behaved of all the children at the orphanage. He is also the top student in his class. He has never gotten in trouble once. He always does everything asked of him.

He is about the same age as Vilaiy, and is a really good kid. He is a leader; all of the younger kids look up to him. He has been given many privileges and responsibilities, and is doing well in school. He loves to read the Bible, and likes music. At church, he now stays with the adults.

The younger brother of Soktoun, Soktoul is a good student. He loves soccer and loves to play a game similar to hackey-sack. He enjoys playing by himself, because he doesn’t want the children to take his toys. But he is very gentle. He speaks loudly.

He doesn’t enjoy helping, and hides when it comes time to work. He is a couple of grades behind in school. Before he came to the orphanage, he attended school very sporadically, and was neglected, not loved. Khay is not a very good student, and has a bit of a problem with his temper.

Lyn and Khay are brothers. After their parents died, they boys were split up between maternal and paternal grandmothers. Lyn was loved before he came to the orphanage, and is gentle, obedient and studious. Lyn recently fell and broke his arm badly, but he has recovered completely, except for some scarring.

Srey Pa:
Srey Pa’s character is similar to Heang’s, but she is trickier than Heang. She likes being in charge. Her mother is still alive, but she abandoned Srey Pa.

Bruhn is Meerlia’s brother. When he first came to the orphanage, he stole everything he could find. Now he does not. He’s messy, and has an insatiable appetite. Given the choice, he would eat himself sick.

Sitha is gentle, and loves to dance. He is also quite a comedian. He is an average student.

Metha is very small. Before, he lived in the forest with his sisters. When he came to the orphanage, he was scared of everyone, especially white people, since he had never seen any in the forest. Now he is happy, and loves meeting new people.

Mey Nearng:
Like her siblings, Mey Nearng is very small for her age. She is a very good kid, is gentle and responsible. She is very polite and dainty, like a proper Khmer girl. She likes to study.

Pay does not like studying, but enjoys housework. She is a perfectionist when it comes to cleaning. She has had trouble adjusting socially, and does not yet play well with other children. She is often quite serious.

Dane used to live with her grandmother. She is a tomboy and a bit rough on her clothes and other possessions. She is extremely strong, and can lift heavier objects than the bigger children. She does everything quickly, and is a good student.


Narun and Sophal work hard at creating a stable, loving relationship. They spend a lot of time reassuring the kids about their new life – they will always have food, they will always be taken care of, and they all have one father, Jesus. They do not talk about the past. When they are reminded of the past, they are very sad, but they do not dwell on it (very Cambodian). They sing songs about the future.

The children are all happy with their new life, and they know that there are people in America who also love them very much.


erica said...

Wow! That's quite the series of report cards!
It doesn't sound all that negative. It sounds normal. And honest. And very helpful for those of us who like to pray more specifically.

Those two have their hands full on our behalf. Are we paying them enough? I have got to sit down with the papers and get our money more in order so we can pay them more.

It's an avalanche, though, and spring break got filled up. sigh.

Tonight, Brian is bringing home Thai food from the Bangkok Gardens over on 33 and Refugee road and we are taking it to Kori and the boys. I have to call them tomorrow and get their orders. Mmmmm. We will eat as well as you tonight!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the explanations, I will pray even harder for the directors. I can't imagine having all those children to "parent". It calls me to be even more loving and positive to my children....
Good work..
I really enjoyed the short bios on the kids, we read them to Sarah, hope they will give her some perspective.
I will be traveling to Florida to look at the house this weekend. We are proud of your work and praying for you.

Mindi Lannon said...

I am so touched.........I'm absorbed in reading about our friends/family over in Cambodia. I'm really happy to get to know more details. The stories of Sophal and Narun are so typical of the one in the book, "First They Killed MY Father". Thank you for taking the time with this......what a gemstone this descriptive is.

Missing them ALL....Mindi