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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Love spur for brave Bou Ma

Love spur for brave Bou Ma

B OU Ma - cruelly disfigured and blinded by an acid attack when he was a moto-driver a year ago - is learning Khmer Braille, "doing something for myself" in the hope of keeping the love of his girlfriend.

There is still a slight chance Bou Ma might see again.

In the meantime teachers of the blind at the Catholic NGO Maryknoll are helping Bou Ma and eight other students aged 15 to 25 to learn Braille.

Bou Ma, 24, used to work as a moto-driver till a passenger threw acid at him during a motorcycle robbery near Tuol Kork in Oct 1993.

"I had the chance to get operated on by a Japanese doctor from Untac, but unfortunately my skin was damaged too much. The doctor had to cover my eyes with skin to prevent any further damage," he sadly recalled.

Being blind, Untac connected him with Maryknoll which was starting a program for blind people in Phnom Penh. When they opened the teaching center, he was one of the first students to attend.

Bou Ma said: "After my accident I was so desperate. I was studying forestry and I wasn't able to continue my study. I thought that life was meaningless at that time."

Then he started studying Khmer and English Braille, as he speaks English very well.

He said: "Now that I can do something again, I hope I would be able to find something to do in the future."

"But I cannot realize anymore my dream which is working in forestry. As soon as I became blind there was no possibility for me to go back to the university."

He still has hope however: "The Japanese doctor is coming back to Cambodia in 1995. Perhaps there is a slight chance that I can see again because, though my eyes are closed, I can see light."

"Moreover the people of Maryknoll told me that they will be able to type studying books in Braille. When I get fluent in Braille I can continue learning which is what I desire the most now."

He ended: "My girlfriend has been taking care of me since July 1993. If I want to keep her love, I have to show her that I can do something for myself. And now people are helping me to do so."

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