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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Moving tribute to Dominic, Kellie and Tina

Moving tribute to Dominic, Kellie and Tina

A N emotional Memorial Service for Dominic Chappell, Kellie Wilkinson and Tina Dominy was held at Wat Botum on Nov 8.

Led by Buddhist spiritual leader, Venerable Samdech Son Bourkry, the simple service was attended by more than a hundred and fifty mourners. They included the British and Australian ambassadors Paul Reddicliffe and Tony Kevin. Many Cambodians were present along with expatriates, creating a sense of shared grief over the violent deaths of the young people which had shocked the world.

Anthony Alderson, who runs the Deja Vu cafe, talked of the innocence and freedom Dominic and Kellie had found in Cambodia which persuaded them to stay.

He praised their successful Cafe Rendezvous at Sihanoukville. "They brought the circus to town," he said. Not all those who dined at Cafe Rendezvous would have known that the premises served as a refuge for the town's street-children, many of whom were cared for by Kellie.

Alderson recalled Dominic saving the life of a boy one night after a grenade explosion. He rushed him to the Kantha Bopha hospital in Phnom Penh. "They came with love and time," he concluded.

Suzanne Smith, a nurse at Access Medical Services, said after the service that she remembered Kellie bringing in a child with dengue fever. "Kellie looked after the boy and paid all the bills," she recalled.

A page from Kellie's diary in 1992, when she was 22, described her joy in being in Asia, among the beautiful children. "I feel so young and innocent again. I feel as if I am looking at the world through inquisitive eyes - I am happy - so so happy. I AM ALIVE. I have not felt this way for a long time. I thank these beautiful children and people for making me once more AWARE."

Dominic's mother Phyllida Chappell, with dignified and courageous composure, quoted a letter from Oxford historian Dr Peter Carey, chairman of the Cambodia Trust. Visiting last year, Carey had found Cafe Rendezvous a "revelation in a demoralized society, and a haven from the realities of Cambodia." He remembered Kellie as a "chatelaine of the establishment, offering intimacy and care in a superlative place, in a place of few superlatives." He said what a big vote of confidence it had been to take such a risk, for which they paid with their lives. Their deaths were a double tragedy, he claimed, for with them also died a sense of hope for a better future for Cambodia.

Kellie Karatu read a poem by Andrew Hall, and David Chappell, Dominic's father, said how death came out of the forest and claimed his children.

Samdech Son Bourkry led chanting and prayers. A group of child musicians and dancers - and in particular a tiny girl, in a red and goldspun costume - sang at the end. Their beauty and innocence were a poignant tribute to the three friends who had died so young.

When most of the mourners had filed out, the monks remained in prayer, while a small group of Cambodians gathered before the large wreath to examine the framed photographs of Kellie and Dominic.

Gazing at Kellie's radiant smile, one of them said with a sad expression. "Khmer Rou," shaking his head over and over again, before gently replacing the picture beneath the wreath.

Led by Buddhist spiritual leader, Venerable Samdech Son Bourkry, the simple service was attended by more than a hundred and fifty mourners. They included the British and Australian ambassadors Paul Reddicliffe and Tony Kevin. Many Cambodians were present along with expatriates, creating a sense of shared grief over the violent deaths of the young people which had shocked the world.

Anthony Alderson, who runs the Deja Vu cafe, talked of the innocence and freedom Dominic and Kellie had found in Cambodia which persuaded them to stay.

He praised their successful Cafe Rendezvous at Sihanoukville. "They brought the circus to town," he said. Not all those who dined at Cafe Rendezvous would have known that the premises served as a refuge for the town's street-children, many of whom were cared for by Kellie.

Alderson recalled Dominic saving the life of a boy one night after a grenade explosion. He rushed him to the Kantha Bopha hospital in Phnom Penh. "They came with love and time," he concluded.

Suzanne Smith, a nurse at Access Medical Services, said after the service that she remembered Kellie bringing in a child with dengue fever. "Kellie looked after the boy and paid all the bills," she recalled.

A page from Kellie's diary in 1992, when she was 22, described her joy in being in Asia, among the beautiful children. "I feel so young and innocent again. I feel as if I am looking at the world through inquisitive eyes - I am happy - so so happy. I AM ALIVE. I have not felt this way for a long time. I thank these beautiful children and people for making me once more AWARE."

Dominic's mother Phyllida Chappell, with dignified and courageous composure, quoted a letter from Oxford historian Dr Peter Carey, chairman of the Cambodia Trust. Visiting last year, Carey had found Cafe Rendezvous a "revelation in a demoralized society, and a haven from the realities of Cambodia." He remembered Kellie as a "chatelaine of the establishment, offering intimacy and care in a superlative place, in a place of few superlatives." He said what a big vote of confidence it had been to take such a risk, for which they paid with their lives. Their deaths were a double tragedy, he claimed, for with them also died a sense of hope for a better future for Cambodia.

Kellie Karatu read a poem by Andrew Hall, and David Chappell, Dominic's father, said how death came out of the forest and claimed his children.

Samdech Son Bourkry led chanting and prayers. A group of child musicians and dancers - and in particular a tiny girl, in a red and goldspun costume - sang at the end. Their beauty and innocence were a poignant tribute to the three friends who had died so young.

When most of the mourners had filed out, the monks remained in prayer, while a small group of Cambodians gathered before the large wreath to examine the framed photographs of Kellie and Dominic.

Gazing at Kellie's radiant smile, one of them said with a sad expression. "Khmer Rou," shaking his head over and over again, before gently replacing the picture beneath the wreath.

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