Author: Missionary Heather Hui (Assistant Field Director, Pleroma Ministries Cambodia)
Our Pleroma Home for Girls sends the children back to home twice a year for holidays. After knowing the dates they will be going home, the children are eager and excited, and they will share their feelings with me, and I always look for Nong, worried that her companions’ excitement and joy will sting her!
I don’t know; perhaps she is used to it or doesn’t care. She showed no particular sadness nor made any sour remarks to the others. Still, after the children left for their hometown, I kept thinking about Nong’s short-term stay in some other agency.
This Cambodian New Year, the children will return to their hometown to celebrate the holiday like in previous years, eager and excited. But this year, Nong told me excitedly that she would also be going home! She finally had a home, a kindred home.
Nong was an orphan when she first came to us. She could only remember three other brothers and sisters in an orphanage in the village but was unsure of the address or any additional information. She was not very trusting back then, so we did not have much to follow up on. As time went by, we gradually built up trust, and she finally opened up, revealing the actual situation of her family. However, since specific information was still lacking, the search for her relatives was stuck.
The social worker in charge never gave up hope. The child obviously has relatives. How can we brand her as an orphan based on “unknown” information? Battling between gleams of hope and endless discouragements for more than a year, she finally found the orphanage and located Nong’s younger brother and sister; but they have lost connection with the father who placed his four children there. As a result, the social worker had to spend more time and effort on this quest. Finally, she learned that the father had passed away; but thankfully, she found two of the sisters.
So that is how four of the six siblings reunited after ten years of separation. Their joyful embrace and tears still warm my heart, and the perseverance of the dedicated colleagues continues to inspire me.
The quest not only found Nong’s brothers and sisters but a home. More importantly, for her, she found her hope in life. Now she has decided to go back to school, to strive for a future for herself and her family.
Her older sister took a ten-hour car ride to Phnom Penh to bring Nong home for New Year. Our agency was to take her to the drop-off point for them to meet. I told the social worker right away that I wanted to drive Nong personally to reunite with her sister. On the way in the car, I couldn’t help but turn to look at Nong. I was especially touched by her heartfelt smile and her watery eyes, eyes that sparkled with enthusiasm and hope.
How would you feel about spending New Year with your family for the first time in ten years?