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Father says 'jungle woman' now 'normal human being'

Father says 'jungle woman' now 'normal human being'

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Rochom P’nhieng, known as the jungle girl, is shown waiting for treatment at a hospital in Ratanakkiri last month.

She can speak out when she is hungry, thirsty and sleepy.

CAMBODIA’S so-called “jungle woman”, who is said to have spent years living in a forest before making a celebrated re-emergence almost three years ago, has now become “a normal human being”, her father and a doctor said Tuesday.

Rochom P’nhieng caused a sensation in January 2007 when she was found in a Ratanakkiri jungle, naked, dirty and emaciated. Immediately, Sal Lou said the woman was his long-lost daughter, missing since 1989 when the girl, then 10 years old, vanished while herding buffalo.

Since then, however, Rochom P’nhieng has battled bouts of illness, often refusing to eat food. Now, Sal Lou says his daughter can understand basic phrases and even speak a few words in Khmer or the language of his ethnic Phnong tribe.

“She can speak out when she is hungry, thirsty, sleepy and so on,” Sal Lou said.

The apparent breakthrough happened after Rochom P’nhieng, now believed to be 28 years old, returned from treatment at a local hospital one month ago.

Dr Hing Phan Sokunthea, director of the Ratanakkiri provincial referral hospital, said Rochom P’nhieng suffers from a nervous illness, but that she is now able to eat food.

“She had been treated at our hospital for a few days and now she is OK,” he said. “She has returned home, and she can eat food like a normal person now.”

Sal Lou said his daughter’s condition appears to be improving from day to day. Whereas before, Rochom P’nhieng would often try to escape and flee into the jungle, she now prefers staying at home, he said.

“We tried to take her into the jungle, but she wanted to come back home,” Sal Lou said.

“I am so happy when I see my daughter living like other women.”

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