An impoverished village, home to dozens of former enemies from the country's long
civil war, received five cows from donors in the US on July 8. The animals were handed
over to the village's five poorest families.
Some 230 men, most of whom are disabled, live with their families in Veal Thom village,
Kampong Speu province. All are former Khmer Rouge, Funcinpec or State of Cambodia
soldiers who once fought each other, but now, having been ignored by the government
and mired in poverty, turn to each other for help.
The unusual tale, which ran in the New York Times following a story in the Phnom
Penh Post in March, moved several US citizens to donate money. Almost $1,000 was
raised and channeled through Veterans' International (VI)-a US-based NGO-whose staff
attended the ceremony.
The director of the village association, which decided how to spend the donated money,
explained that this was the latest in a line of gifts to the former fighters.
"There have been eight different grants to the villagers since 2000, such as
rice, noodles, kramas, mosquito nets, blankets and now cows," said Touch Seourly.
Sneung Channim, 45, who lost his left leg in a landmine explosion, was one of the
"Even though we have had several people come to help us, we are still poor,"
he said. "But these days our lives are much better. This donation makes me very
happy because it will be extremely helpful in enabling us to make a living."
Nov San, 49, who lost both arms to a landmine, said this was his third grant. The
fact that so many people were helping the villagers made him optimistic: "Now
I have a lot of hope in my life. There are many people supporting me with grants,
and it makes my life better and better as each day goes by."