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Tragedy of San Te

Tragedy of San Te

A FTER only six months of service in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces 22-year-old

Sain Te was lucky enough to be granted leave to travel to Phnom Penh and marry

his sweetheart.

Three days before his wedding day he was detailed to a

mine-clearing operation on Aral mountain in Kompong Speu province. It was there

that his young life was shattered when a mine exploded.

The blast caused

an eye infection that has left him blind. An infection that is curable according

to hospital pharmacist, Hel So Phal. But there is no one to buy the medicine for

him. His mother visited for three days after the accident but has never

returned. His bride-to-be cut off all contact when she learnt of his fate and it

is unlikely, as a soldier, he will receive help from a foreign

organization.

Now he lays in the dead heat of block B1B at Preah Ket

Meala military hospital. He writhes around in a constant search for comfort,

careful not to bang the stump where his right forearm used to be or open the

wound where one of the fingers of his left hand was blown away. Scars litter his

body. A testimony to the healing process that has of yet failed to take hold of

his mind. He is deep in shock and is only able to utter a few syllables. Alone,

he has all the time in the world to think of what was and what might have

been.

Things might be a little more bearable if Te could join in with the

other patients' card games or distract himself with yesterday's newspaper but he

cannot enjoy either of these things.

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