A dream came true for a father and son early this month when the long-lost lad was
reunited with his father.
After more than a year apart, the father and son, Lik and Thong respectively, were
reunited on Dec. 12 after a relative saw an announcement the lad's rescuer had placed
on local television.
"It was the most rewarding incident to have been involved in," said CivPol's
Sgt. John Gallagher, who was with the boy when his family and home were finally found
after a long misadventure.
On Nov. 10, 1991, Thong, age 10, was found to be missing from his family home in
Phnom Penh by an unknown means.
"Likely the little fellow simply got lost," said Gallagher. And at some
time later he was "offered for sale" by what Gallagher described as an
"eccentric woman," to a cyclo driver for 5,000 riel.
The cyclo driver, Kong Young, bargained and purchased the lad for 3,000 riel, and
took the boy to his home in Oudong in Kompong Speu province where "he treated
the boy as he would a little brother," said Gallagher.
Once in Oudong, Gallagher and his CivPol mate, Sgt. John Mahon-both of whom are part
of the 40-man Irish contingent to UNTAC's Civilian Police-got involved in the fate
After the boy's aunt made the identification of the boy from the Dec. 8 television
announcement, Gallagher and Mahon drove Thong and his cyclo-driving guardian back
to Phnom Penh for the joyous reunion-where the boy instantly recognized his father.
"There was no question in my mind that we found the right family when we brought
the boy home," said Gallagher.
Gallagher and Mahon, who will be rotating home in January to Donegal and Sligo respectively,
said they found that the Cambodian people were friendly and deserved of the U.N.'s
effort at bringing peace to this country.
"No better people deserve this more," Gallagher said.
"We're glad to have met the Cambodian people-and their kids," said Mahon.