2018 Cambodia Cardiac Trip – Sokhem Village
When LWB first visited Sokhem Village in 2016, the majority of children living there weren’t receiving an education. It simply wasn’t safe for them to travel the long distance to the government school on their own. Most of the adults living in this area travel into Thailand each day searching for work, leaving the older kids in the village to care for their younger siblings. As we’ve reported before, the childhood malnutrition rate in this village when we first got involved was a staggering 75%.
What a difference two years can make! Now LWB has a full education complex right in the village, with a primary school, art building, hot lunch program, and “Sibling School” early childhood center. Over 100 children in the village are now receiving interventions.
Sokhem Village is more remote than Rangsei, and the medical team loaded into tuk tuks with their equipment to make the trip out.
When we reached the school complex, we had the sweetest little welcoming committee waiting to greet us.
Our Sokhem school enrolls children from infancy to grade 3, and the kids were very curious about the people coming into their classrooms.
The team got right to work evaluating all the children.
One of their little patients was 3-year-old Joel, who is enrolled at our Sibling School.
We first met Joel when he was just a baby and being cared for each day by his 9-year-old sister Finley. She was the most devoted “mom” to her little brother, and even when she broke her arm she still carried him with her everywhere she went.
Being a full-time caregiver, however, meant that Finley wasn’t going to school, so we were really thankful that our Sibling School gave Joel a safe place to be each day while she studied. Each morning Finley drops Joel off with a kiss.
And then she walks next door to study hard in Grade 3.
Joel now loves coming to his own school, and especially loves anything with balls or books.
Joel was quite malnourished when he first entered our program and has faced some real health challenges as well, such as contracting Dengue Fever. When our medical team listened to his heart, they heard something they felt needed an extra check, so Joel was sent for an echo. He was very brave during the whole exam.
Thankfully after a full scan, the doctors said Joel’s heart is nice and strong. After getting down from the exam table, he showed us how much his muscles are growing with all the extra nutrition he now gets.
After a long exam day screening 109 children, it was time to head back for the evening. Our “school bus” drivers pulled up with their tuk tuks. Since many of the children at this school live in more remote areas, we shuttle children back and forth each day to make sure they have a safe way home.
There’s always that one child however, who just relishes being a ham, right? How many moms out there are shaking their heads knowing just what we mean? Our own hearts just about stopped when this little guy suddenly decided to make his friends laugh by showing off for our team.
Yep. 10-year-old boys equal lots of gray hair. We’re happy to report he quickly got safely back inside, and the tuk tuk was able to continue on its journey. A collective sigh of relief from us all!