Today, after re-stocking my wardrobe and sipping some wine, we were approached in “Pub St”, Siem Reap by a very courteous man who had no fingers on either of his hands, and missing a foot. Not fluent in English, he presented us with a piece of paper with the below message typed out in English. He is not an exception in Cambodia, his living standard and struggles are fairly par-for-the-course, as I have seen during my time working here. After seeing him we caught a tuk-tuk back to our comfy hotel. The tuk-tuk driver’s words were “Life in Cambodia is very very difficult”. This man’s letter is testament to the fact.
As the story is written in his own words it’s worth far more than anything I can ever write as a bystander visiting and watching from a safe distance, and well worth sharing here.
Hello! Please forgive me that I cannot write speak to you directly because I know English a little, I asked my friend to write it for me. My name is <K>. I live in <the name of his village and district>. I lost both hands and foot by landmine when I was 13 years old in Prey Veng Province, and then I moved to live in Siem Reap. I have wife and 2 children, but I do not want to be a beggar. I think that is not good to be a beggar, so I run a small business to feed my family by selling books on the Pub St, but now my business is not good because there are not so many tourists, and another problem is that I have to escape from the police who prevent me not to sell around the Pub St where I can have some sale. It’s very difficult for me now because I have to feed my family to pay for the rent of the house $40 and the school fee, of my children $30 every month. I need to find a better home for my family also, but I have no hands and one foot so what can I do for work to help my family? I cannot stop my children from school because I think that knowledge is very important for their future. I have to try to sell my books every day honestly, right now I really feel disappointed and afraid that I cannot earn money to support those things. Because I’ve got weaker and from day I take medicine daily, my health is not as good be. So I have to for myself to ask for your help and your kindness, if you can please help me to buy my book or any donation in order to support my expenses in my family that would be very kind of you. I have nothing to give you back besides my respectfulness. I give you thankfulness from all my heart to you and wish you have a long life. And all my best. You can phone me on <number> and email <email address>.