Imagine… being 8 years old and finding yourself all alone with your 5 year old sister and 1.5 year old brother. Your father died many years ago and your mother left you and your siblings 2 months ago. Nobody really knows where she went. You have to find food for you and your siblings, you have to nurse your little brother and you have to protect the food you manage to collect from your grandmother and aunt so they don’t eat it or sell it in order to buy some beer.
This was Noy’s reality, before she met Andrew Brown and was able to move to Deak Kum Pa Orphanage. As Andrew put it “if she hadn’t moved to the orphanage she would be pregnant before the age 12 and by 30 she would probably be dead”. Life in the villages is tough, finding food is dangerous, as you have to climb on slippery riverbanks or hillsides. Giving birth is also dangerous as the medical education level is low. Educated midwifes or doctors seldom attend deliveries.
When we first meet Noy she was at home in her village, Ban Phou Sarng for a school holiday. Her eyes were the saddest eyes we had ever seen, so dark and empty, and she was carrying her baby-brother constantly. When she put him down he started to cry. Her mother was still gone. Probably it is too hard for her not to be able to serve her children enough food. Noy again had to take care of her siblings and to find food for them. They hadn’t eaten for two days and begged La, Andrew’s assistant, to give them some food. We were pleased to be able to help and bought rice, noodles, eggs and pig skin for them. We made a deal with the local store to keep the food in the store and just give Noy the daily need, to keep it away from her grandmother and aunt. Hopefully it worked…
Andrew’s assistant La visits the village every Saturday to teach the children English. After each lesson they are all given an apple. This is the only fruit each week that most of the children in the village eat.