By Yeom Mao

Everybody born in the world, through their lives, has happiness and laughter but also they can have problems and suffering, it cannot be avoided.  Owing to this I thought carefully about describing my story so that you could understand the problems I have faced in my life.

My name is Yeom Mao, 25-years old, born in Svay Leu district, Siem Reap, Angkor, Cambodia. I have 5 siblings and my parents were farmers. I was about 6 years old when my mother she passed away.  I was living with my father and brothers.  When I was 10 years old 3 young gangsters beat me up and the worst was the damage to my spine.  They made me a disabled person but at this time I could still walk normally.

A year later, my father also passed away but I was still living with my brothers who took me to enroll in Grade 1.  I had been studying for only half a year when my back pains got really bad.  I was sick but I still went to school regularly and never feel inclined to leave school; I did not want to fail.  One day while studying in my class, I was suffering unbearable with the pain that I could do nothing but cry tears.

 I studied at Wat Bo Primary School

Over time the disease increased, and I had to drop out of school.   I end up being doubled over and had huge boils situated either side of the hips.  The boils were very infected and the poison leaked into my blood and affected my bones. This went on for to 2 or 3 years even though I was taking medicine and being treated; it would not heal.

 These are my room mates at the boys dormitory that is supported by Ponheary Ly Foundation

Then I could no longer walk as the infection had made my bones very weak.  My brothers, they took me to the hospital for treatment in Siem Reap. First, they took me to the Mondul S’Da Healthcare Center where they examined the disease very seriously but did not have the way to help me, instead they sent me to the Angkor Hospital For Children to continue my treatment.  When I arrived at Angkor Hospital For Children I was treated by the pediatricians there who treat me carefully as well as with compassion.  They treated me regardless of not having any wage and even give me financial support for the purchase of food intake as well.

In those days many of the pediatricians at Angkor were woman foreigners and there was one who was aware of my problems and she was the one who supported the budget and found a place for me to stay to be treated regularly (at that time my brothers had to go back home to carry on their work). She found me a place, with the Cambodian Village Support Group (CVSG) temporarily while she returned to her home country, and she told me she will come back to Cambodia again.

A few months later, she returned back to Cambodia quickly, and said she would take me to her country to be treated and to live there.  She told me in 1 year, she will take me back to visit the country.  I do not want to go to live in her country, because I don’t want to live far from my brothers and I wanted to continue to learn at school. The foreigner, she is okay with my decision and two weeks later she returned to her country, but she told me that next year she will return. She talked about my back needing to be treated for months and that maybe it would take several years to heal.  I would need to have injections for 2 months and take medication for 8 months.

After this treatment the Cambodian Village Support Group(CVSG) took me to enroll in the primary school in Grade 2, this was in 2005.  At this time the teacher at the school gave my name to the Ponheary Ly Foundation and from Grade 2 to Grade 6 they gave me study materials such as books, pens and clothing.  When I was finished grade 6 and up to grade 7, Ponheary Ly Foundation sponsored me with a cart so I could ride to school.

This motorbike was sponsor by Ponheary Ly Foundation

For study in Grade 7 to Grade 8, I had to use more money to pay teachers for learning part-time subjects such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, and Khmer language.  During that time I don’t have much money to pay for extra class so I ask the teacher to learn for free and he said that’s okay. While I was in grade 7 and 8, the Cambodian Village Support Group(CVSG) could no longer afford to spend money on my education while Ponheary Ly Foundation just sponsors school supplies, as mentioned above. Ponheary Ly Foundation continued up until Grade 10 to sponsor me for studies, food and a small bit of pocket money.  When I graduated from grade 10th I decided to drop out of school and at first I am very sad because I try to learn from Grade 1 until now and I ask why now when I only have two more years, I cannot complete.

 I work as a repair man on CPU at an electronic shop

But then I understand that to stop learning in this way is not bad.  I understand that for me as a disabled person even though I graduate to go to university, there are not many work places that will receive disabled people to work for them.  I realize that learning to do repairs of electronics will help me to achieve a good future as well.  Ponheary Ly Foundation has sponsored me to learn electronics and has given me a motorbike to ride to school, which was hard for me to do by bicycle.

I no longer live in the Organization of Japan and the Ponheary Ly Foundation has taken me to live in a boy’s dormitory. So I feel a lot of excitement in my heart, that I have passed through this disaster, even after all the harassment to me in my life, I still have been guided in my life for success in the future.

And I would hope, as always, that I will become more than someone that repairs electronics that I will achieve being a powerful one.