We observe from the back of an open-air classroom the teacher announcing our arrival. Children, perhaps five years old, stand and sing a song they have memorized for class. They are learning to speak, read and write English to best prepare them for the future. It is soon time for lunch, and the students head to the outdoor sink to wash their hands. Each child receives a generous portion of rice, broth, vegetables and meat or fish. Patrick says they are growing like bamboo shoots. Most of the children arrive at CCF very stunted in height for their age with many health issues. They sit together at communal tables enjoying one another’s company instead of having to fight over food. The children have formed relationships of trust with one another. Their smiles and laughter are proof.
The three facilities AEC operates, two in the rural countryside of Cambodia and one in Phnom Penh, are shining examples of the organization’s ear care work. With very little money, these audiologists have created an environment of calm and beauty to reassure their anxious young patients. There is a curving line of small Buddha statues in the waiting room resembling the children waiting their turn. Wonderful posters adorn the walls picturing friendly animals that teach children about ear health. The technicians are gentle, caring professionals. The children we see today are all HIV positive, living in an orphanage.
Sao Sary, a government worker from the province, was tragically murdered for the humanitarian work he undertook to help villagers in this area. Sao’s son, Vichetr Uon, created the foundation to continue his father’s work. The enemies Vichetr deals with are loan sharks and prostitution groups who prey upon the innocent people in these impoverished villages.