Twelve-year-old Theng Sreyleak has had a tough life for a young girl – she was born HIV-positive in 2000, lost both parents when she was only three, and on January 3 suffered another blow when she was forcibly evicted from the controversial Borei Keila site along with her aunt and grandmother.
Caught up in one of Cambodia’s more controversial land disputes, Theng Sreyleak and her younger sister had settled in Borei Keila with her aunt and grandmother after her parents had died, and life wasn’t easy.
Her aunt and grandmother did their best to support the two girls by selling religious items in O’Russey market, and she was offered anti-retroviral medicine from the National Pediatric Hospital.
Theng Sreyleak was also getting some schooling and was in grade-five while her sister was in grade-nine.
Things weren’t perfect, but the two orphaned sisters were living reasonably well with their aunt and grandmother – until their forced eviction from the Borei Keila site, which has turned into one of Cambodia’s more controversial land disputes.
Their house and property were bulldozed by security guards from the Pham Imex company, backed by the municipal police.
This poor family of three were then packed off to an open space in Srah Por village in Phsar Chhnang commune in Ponhear Loeu district at Kandal province, where there was no infrastructure, clean water or sanitation.
Theng Sreyleak’s health started to suffer because she could no longer travel into town to get the drugs she needed to stay healthy, so as a follow-up story to the plight of the people evicted I wrote about Theng Sreyleak and how she was suffering from the lack of drugs needed to keep her alive and healthy.
She was in poor shape and it was a heartbreaking story.
She was living with her sister, aunt and grandmother under a plastic tarpaulin and it boiling hot through the day and at night the mosquitoes moved in.
Without her anti-retroviral drugs she had a fever, had developed a rash on her body and was suffering diarrhea.
When her story appeared in The Phnom Penh Post, Scott Neeson from the Cambodian Children’s Fund came to her aid and took her in.
Now, thanks to the Cambodian Children’s Fund, her small family’s lives have improved dramatically.
“Now I feel absolutely delighted because I can have enough food, go to school and entertain with my peers,” she said as she showed off a new dress.
Khorn Malin, her aunt, told the Post she was extremely grateful to the Cambodian Children’s fund, which has saved both of her parentless nieces from a life of ongoing hardship.
“I have countless words to describe my thankfulness to the Cambodian Children’s Fund for its generosity, especially Mr Scott Neeson, in giving a hand to my family which has suffered great difficulty,” she said.
Neeson, who has contributed so many resources and time to provide assistance to thousands of Cambodian children and helped them achieve their goals, told the Post he felt grief-stricken after seeing the article about Sreyleak.
“We spent nearly a week searching for her,” he said.
For once in Theng Sreyleak’s short life, things have finally taken a turn for the better.