Sok comes to Phnom Penh to go to school
Sok, one of the boys from the Kratie slum, is going to school! He is supposed to be 12 years old, and has studied almost nothing…he follows his father to the construction sites to earn .50 cents to $1.00 per day doing manual labor, hauling gravel and rock for the construction crews. These crews are ususally verbally abusive, and one of my staff told me, “they speak to him like he’s a dog”. Because of a consistent presence in the Kratie slums, Sok’s father has come to us and told us that he “doesn’t want his son to grow up in such terrible poverty”, and he allowed my staff on site in Kratie to bring him down to Phnom Penh. We’ll start Sok in 1st grade, far behind his real grade level, but there’s nothing we can do about it. Better late than never! But we are all rejoicing that he is able to finally leave the horrible environment behind and come into a normal setting.
The little girl above, who I’ll call Mai (not her real name) was born HIV positive. Several of her family members are also HIV positive. She lives with her grandparents, and has not seen her mother for many years. She lives in one of the worst slums I have ever seen. About a year ago, I put Mai on our special Kratie Kids feeding program, then added breakfast as well as a mid-day meal. Mai was always frail and sick, with swollen glands (common in HIV positive patients) and on the anti-retroviral medications provided by a generous international health agency. When we took her to doctors in Phnom Penh, they weren’t terribly optimistic. At that time, Mai’s grandmother, doing everything she could to survive, would take Mai with her into the garbage dumps to find anything that could be recycled. We instructed the grandmother to stop doing this, since Mai already had continuous infections, and was weak and tired all the time. She never ran or played like other children her age. Our wonderful staff on-site in Kratie, Mrs Sambath, has tirelessly watched over Mai, and her grandmother has a little job at Sambath’s house doing cleaning, earning $20 a month (seemingly a fortune for folks like these!) The picture above is Mai today, one year later. She has dramatically improved, though sometimes still tired, she smiles, has gained weight, and eats and sleeps normally, and even plays sometime. God is good! Pray for us as we reach out into more homes in the Kratie slums. We have just, by faith, increased our Kratie Kids Feeding Program to 15 children. We hope to increase it even more in the next few months.
Mai one year ago:
Mai with her grandmother in their Kratie slum house