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Orphans hurt after wall collapsed

Orphans hurt after wall collapsed

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Vorn Mony, 19, recovers yesterday at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital. Six other labourers were injured when a wall collapsed on Friday, Oct. 17, 2012, at the Our Home orphanage in Phnom Penh. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post

Seven children from a local NGO that cares for orphans were sent to hospital yesterday after a brick wall in their building collapsed on them when they tried to help out on a construction project while workers were taking a lunch break.

The injuries, which aren’t critical, have nonetheless sparked criticism against the director of the organisation, Our Home, for providing insufficient supervision on site. Though officials are firing off accusations and calling for his dismissal, the children are the ones acting like peacemakers.

“I am not complaining about my organisation director, because we did this ourselves,” said Keo Polroth, 17, from his bed in the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital.

Face swollen and hand attached to an intravenous drip, Polroth told a Post reporter that he and his buddies wanted to complete the unfinished renovation job.

“Then one of my friends who was a little bit away from us took a big hammer, smashed the wall and caused it to fall down on us,” he said.

Polroth was rendered unconscious under a pile of bricks. After a neighbour saw what happened, local authorities rushed the children to the hospital. Two of Polroth’s friends suffered broken bones, and the remaining four were treated for bruises and scrapes.

Vann Kahna, head of the Ministry of Social Affairs office in Meanchey district, said yesterday that two children were allowed to leave hospital after the doctors cleaned their wounds.

Our Home Director Hang Vibol said yesterday at the hospital that he did not ask the children to do the work.

“I was on the way to the hospital to get a check-up when I got a phone call informing me about this accident,” he said.

Vibol said that he had hired construction workers to build a new office, and that the boys tried to pitch in when everyone left at lunchtime.

“I really regret what they did. I pity them so much, and I do not want this case to happen to my children,” Vibol said.

Heak Chanleang, deputy governor of Meanchey district, said yesterday that the director of the organisation was careless, and that he should have ensured workers were on site.

“At first, I wanted to arrest the director of organisation, but I found that his organisation is registered and he has really helped the victims,” he said, adding that he would be monitoring the NGO from now on.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mom Kunthear at [email protected]

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