Sunday, October 07, 2007

Battambang Bios and Goodbyes

What a day. I’m currently lying in bed with Chien in our room at the Te O Hotel in Battambang. Our day started early. After a mediocre breakfast of poached eggs and toast (we really should stick with the Asian food from now on), we took a moto to the orphan home. We walked about five minutes to a small Baptist church with a Filipino pastor. The sermon was preached in English and Khmer (good), but the pastor was a screamer with a very loud sound system (bad). We endured the morning reasonably well and returned by foot to the orphan home.

Chien and I played with the kids until lunchtime. Boy, do those kids eat delicious food. The simple meal of rice, fruit, samlor (Khmer stew) and fried coconut puffs was better than what I could have ordered at my favorite restaurant in Columbus.

After lunch, I returned to the hotel to grab my laptop while Chien stayed behind to play. I spent the next few hours interviewing the staff about each of the children. We already have bio information – where and when the kids were born, the factors contributing to their admission to the orphanage – but I wanted something more personal, more subjective. I wanted something that would allow Asia’s Hope supporters, specifically sponsors from Westview Bible Church in Montreal, to have a sense of what these kids are really like.

Keep in mind as you read the following stories that most of these children have experienced unimaginable pain – their parents died of HIV, suicide, malaria, or had to abandon them due to extreme poverty or other tragedy.

A few notes will help you understand these profiles. All of the children are listed in the Cambodia style, with their family names first, i.e. Srey Someta’s first name is “Someta.” “Seng You” is the name of the orphanage director, and is now the father of all of these children. I have not edited these; these are the ‘raw’ notes from my interviews.

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Srey Someta

Best student in English classes at school. She is happy and thankful to supporters who help her with clothes and other things. Seng You says she is very happy, has a lot of friends here. She enjoys the Khmer dancing classes at the orphanage. She has been at the orphan home since June. Some times she is visited by her aunt. She is a very strong student. She is very active and friendly and enjoys playing soccer with the other children.

Sok Somnang

After his father died, his mother was unable to take care of him. When he first came, he was very sad and never talked to anyone. Now he is playful and speaks to everyone. He is best friends with Kev Piseth, Oeun Chamnan – they are inseparable, eat together, get in trouble together, bathe together, play together like the the Three Muskateers. He was very thin, but is now healthy. He is well adjusted, but is still a little afraid of strangers. He recognizes the difference in his life and is very happy.

Sinn Sreynak

She is in second grade and is working to catch up. Both of her parents died of HIV, and she had a very rough life. She is quiet and has some learning problems due to problems with her early upbringing, and due perhaps to some problems during childbirth. She is good friends with Chanry and Sreyoun, and she loves to laugh and play with them.

Sinn Sreynich

Sreynich is 10 years old, but is only in the third grade. Like her sister Sreynak, she is quiet and has some learning problems. She doesn’t speak up much, and is a sad child most of the time. She is working hard to overcome lots of shame over the obstacles from her early life tragedies. She has three good friends, Someta and Sreyoun and Vuthea.

Sinn Panha

Like his sisters, Panha has some problems with learning, perhaps due to some inherited neurological problems or early childhood trauma. His mother tried to abort him, but he survived because God had a plan for his life. He is in 5th grade. He loves to watch TV, and loves to guard the front gate. He enjoys sports. His best friends are Kheun Davin and Srou Soy.

Dong Vuthea

In 5th grade, Vuthea loves to participate in the Khmer dancing classes. She is happy to come here; she has lots of friends and she gets to be a child again. She accepts the fact that she is a member of the family. She is a good student and loves to play sports and with dolls. She is good friends with Someta and Sreyoun. She likes to become a nurse or doctor when she grows up. Her favorite food is sausage.

Kev Pisey

Pisey enjoys playing games alone, and she doesn’t enjoy school very much. She likes to play ball. She is a very quiet child. She would like to be a nurse when she grows up. Her best friends are Oeun Srey and Srey Someta and Sinn Sreyoun. Her favorite foods are fried eggs and sausage. She doesn’t like soup. She was very sad before, and she had no food or friends. She is now very happy. She still misses her mother, but wants to stay at Asia’s Hope forever.

Kheun Davin

Davin is the fourth grade. He enjoys school, even homework. He is a quiet and gentle child. He loves to play volleyball and football. He is polite and friendly with children and adults alike. He wants to become an English teacher when he grows up. He loves playing with Soy, Panha and David. He loves to each fish and sausage. He misses his sister Chanthea and wants to be reunited with her. This is a big source of sorrow for him.

Kon Sreyka

Sreyka is in second grade. At first she was afraid to come to the orphanage, but she is now happy to be with her friends and new family. She is a very humble and polite. Even before she came to the orphan home, she was very respectful. She wants to become an English teacher when she grows up. She loves to draw pictures. She is best friends with Someta and with Vuthea and Sreyoun and Rarot, who is from her village. She loves to eat sausage.

Kev Piseth

One of the ‘Three Muskateers,’ Piseth loves to play with his friends and still loves to take naps. He likes to pretend that anything is a truck. He is fascinated with vehicles of all kinds. He’s a clever kid and likes to learn some English words with the older kids. He is brave.

Oeun Srey

Loves to study Khmer language; she is smart, but quiet. She loves to smile and charms everyone with her good nature. She is friends with Someta, Sreyoun, Vuthea and Pisey. She wants to be a Khmer dance teacher when she grows up. She wants to learn how to draw, and wishes she had a doll.

Oeun Chamnan

One of the ‘Three Muskateers,’ Chamnan loves to play with a small bike he plays for the other kids. He has a big appetite, and loves meat. He is very curious, and loves to learn about new things. He and his two friends keep his mother (orphanage) busy with typical “boy things.” He is very imaginative and loves picture books. He is hardworking – like his two friends, he loves to help out. He is always brave and never lazy.

Pich Konthom

Konthom is a very good boy and is always friendly and obedient. He likes to watch TV: Tom and Jerry is his favorite show. He is very handy, because he had to fix things for a living before he came here. He also knows how to cook and is very helpful, always compassionate. He is in second grade and is a good student. He loves mathematics. He wants to teach Khmer when he grows up.

Pich Pov

Pov is Konthom’s twin. In many ways, they are very similar, but he is a better student. When he grows up, he wants to become a doctor or professional soccer player. His favorite subject is Khmer language. He loves to eat sausages and fried food. His best friends are Samnang, Davin, Pin, Soy and, of course his brother Konthom. Like his brother, he had to do odd jobs to make a living, and is very good at fixing things. He is curious about everything.

Sinn Pin

Pin loves to play, watch TV and loves to copy the moves of the wrestlers and fighters he has seen on television. He is very active, and loves to imitate and pretend, especially with Davin, Soy, Pov and Konthom. He is in the first grade. He loves sausages and Khmer soup. He would like to be a doctor or nurse when he grows up; he is very interested in learning to give people injections. He is very interested in learning to speak English.

Sinn Sreyoun

Sreyoun is in the 6th grade. She is friendly, humble and polite. She loves to play soccer, badminton and shuttlecock. She studies hard and loves reading the Bible. She is one of the best English students in the school. She also likes to study Khmer. She is good friends with Someta, Vuthea and Pisey. She loves to play with dolls. She loves to eat sausage. She would like to be a nurse or a doctor when she grows up. Her favorite color is pink. She loves to draw pictures of houses, buildings and enjoys illustrating English/Khmer vocab words.

Som Rarot

Rarot is in second grade and enjoys learning the English alphabet. She loves playing with dolls. She is compassionate, and loves to help Seng You. She gives backrubs to Seng You (orphanage father) and is always concerned about his health. She is quiet, but has a wonderful smile that brightens the room. She enjoys dressing up, and plays with Sreyka and Sreyleak, who are from the same village. She has big dreams, and wants to be a doctor, and hopes to cure HIV.

Hout Reasksa

Reasksa was in a motorbike accident when she was two years old. As a result, she is a very timid girl and struggles with fears about her safety. She may be dyslexic, and struggles in school, and often plays by herself, away from other kids. Because of her challenges, she receives a lot of special care, and is loved very much by the orphanage staff. She loves makeup and new clothes. She loves meat, but is not a big fan of vegetables.

Pel Sreyleak

Sreyleak is in first grade. Before she came the orphanage, she had never been in school. She loves to eat sausages and eggs. She enjoys learning about numbers and math, and is friends with Sreyoun, Sreyka and Rarot, who are from the same village. She is a happy child, and loves to get approval from her teachers and parents – she is very responsible, and often volunteers to help the staff or other children. She loves playing with dolls. She would like to be an English teacher or a chef when she grows up.

Srou Soy

Soy is very gentle and softspoken. He is in third grade. He loves to play sports and with trucks. He enjoys studying issues of history and political science. When he grows up, he wants to become a doctor. He’s a big fan of fried vegetables. He also loves pineapple. He likes to play with Piseth. When he has free time, he enjoys reading and doing homework. He likes to do housework including cooking and cleaning.

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After each interview, we called the child we’d been discussing, laid hands on them and prayed for them. In some cases, we asked for specific spiritual gifts to be bestowed on the child. In all cases, we prayed for healing for their broken hearts and protection for them as they grow.

When the interviews were finished, the director and staff asked if I had any prayer requests. I asked for protection for the rest of my journey with Chien, for blessing on my family in the U.S. and the ability to give more of my time and resources to Asia’s Hope. With all the children gathered around, the staff began to say their goodbyes. Seng You, who was the director of our original Battambang orphanage told me some things that I will keep to myself for now. The short version is that our love for and our visits to the kids at both orphan homes have made a greater impact than I could have imagined.

I thank God for any of you that have ever prayed for Asia’s Hope or have given us any money – every prayer, every cent has made a difference. You are all apart of something so big I can hardly find words to describe it. I’m unspeakably grateful for the opportunity to represent you to these kids.

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It’s now bedtime. My heart aches. I already miss these kids so much. If I wasn’t so tired, I’d get a moto and drive out there again with Chien, maybe even spend the night. If I don’t sleep well tonight, it’ll be because I’m thinking of them and praying for them. Please feel free to join me.

Peace.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm in. J

Anonymous said...

My heart cries for these little ones, and that more can be helped. We pray for you and the leaders each day as you guide Asia's Hope. Tell Chien we would love for him to post a blog entry if he is up for it.
Mom

Amanda said...

thank you for all the background stories. i'm so glad they all have a safe home now.

glad to hear you and chien are still happy and healthy! :)