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Boy at Steung Meanchey

Told to study very hard and learn to ignore other people’s suffering sometimes, I can never obey it. Every moment, there is a person already suffering. Every minute, there is a person who is a dire need of help. I cannot avert my eyes from all forms of suffering, just like the way Buddha expeirenced the three forms of suffering of an old age, illness and monkhood. I am always wondering if I can reach, talk to them or know them. I have a childish dream to have inexplicable (magical) powers to help stop suffering. Let’s forget about this unexistable thing. I long to start doing things pratically by helping other poor people or people who are in need of help, of course as much as I can.

And this boy earning money every day on the Stueng Meanchey dumpsite has moved our heart. Catherine (Australian journalist) and I found him working heart and soul there on the dumpsite. He looked desperate to stuff anything sellable into his bags. He had an equipment to pluck any rubbish into his bag just as other garbage pickers do there. It was a handle with a sharp turned head like ‘1’ . Covered himself completely with very old/tattered clothes, he could be half safe from rotten vegetables or yellow elephant dungs. Somehow, he could never be completely safe. His clothes stank!! He smelled like he should have taken a bath three days ago. He didn’t care, though. He went on working on his own. He looked like a very skilled worker who did nothing except work. His face showed his strong determination to survive. My heart was swinging. How great he was! Through all the hell rubbish, he behaved as if it were a rice field to walk back and forth.

This was three months ago when we first met Phorn Vuth, a desperate boy.

He is the breadwinner of his family besides his father. He’s the pillar of the family’s roof. Though he can earn $ 2.5, he can never get enough. He works morning and evening at the dumpsite to pick anything for his daily life. The effects of the dumpsite gets him ill often.His lips look very dry and pale. He is just 14 years old this year but he looks like a 9-year old boy, seemingly a malnurtured child.

Yet, something good was going to happen to him. Catherine had worked so hard and selflessly to find a good and convenient place that can provide him with free and good education. With two organizations (PSE and Friends International) which are dedicated to help poor and destitute people, Phorn Vuth’s future is quite promising. After consulting Friends and PSE, Catherine decided to try PSE first because the organization is nearby his home located adjacent to the dump. It is important to find him a nearby school so he can go on and off the dumphill quickly for it. Sometimes,very poor people can be very disappointed with life and too distressed to do anything. Psychologically, their brain is shut and their eyes are closed now that what’s in their mind is ‘food’ and how to survive for tomorrow.

On the morning of a sunny Monday, something unexpected happened. The boy and I felt very blue because a man from PSE, after looking and inspecting his house, called me to speak to him alone and told me that he needed to think about it. That’s because he’s been there before and he thought that Phorn Vuth wasn’t poor enough to be helped!! I felt the boy looked very sad about it. At first he felt so cheerful. He didn’t go out to pick gabbage since he was waiting for me to go to PSE. I told him, ‘I’ll take you to PSE and you can register for a place there at PSE’. He dressed his best, with a new CSD T-shirt Catherine wanted me to give him and his a bit old loose jeans. I felt a sudden pang of anger toward the man. Couldn’t he see such desperate eyes to study? The man told me that Phorn Vuth did not have the right requirements to be accepted by PSE. Is Phorn Vuth’s really hopeless? When I was leaving, he looked quite sad. He didn’t say anything to me much. His father wasn’t either. But they both had to wait until Thursday as the man promised to come back once again and asked Phorn Vuth’s father even more detailed questions. I’ve kept my fingers crossed for him. However, I’m not giving up despite the man’s reluctance. I’ll try with another organization! I don’t believe that the world is that cruel toward somebody who’s determined.
Would you wait and see it with me.

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