Concerned by the slow pace of his daughter's readjustment to society, the father
of Rochom P'nhieng said he plans to enlist the help of a Laotian sorcerer to facilitate
his daughter's recovery.
Rochom P'nhieng, adjusting to the media glare.
Rochom P'nhieng captured the attention of the world last month when she presumably
returned to settled pasturalist society after 18 years of living alone in the Ratanakkiri
According to her father, the 27-year-old Phnong woman's state has much improved since
returning from the jungle three weeks ago. Although she still cannot dress herself,
her health and appetite have returned and she is no longer frightened by the crowds
of curiousity-seekers that gather at the family home.
But what most concerns her father, and what has led him to seek the advice of the
Laotian wizard, is his daughter's continued inability to speak.
In accordance to his tribe's beliefs, he believes his daughter is possessed by a
"jungle spirit." that has stolen her ability to speak.
Not everyone, however, believes the family's story.
O'Yadao district police chief Mao Sann has been investigating the family's claims
and said he has found little evidence to support the family's version of events.
Hector Rifa, the Psychology Without Borders specialist who began an evaluation on
the girls days after she was re-discovered, is returning to the village from Phnom
Penh for further testing on February 9. He said there have been no new findings,
and his agency is respecting the family's wish for privacy.
Hing Phan Sakunthea, director of the Ratanakkiri provincial referral hospital, also
questioned the authenticity of the women's claims.
"I have not visited her yet, so I am not certain about her condition,"
Sakunthea said. "But I wonder how she managed to avoid disease for all those
Sakunthea has offered free medical treatment to the family.