Sad News: Visal
I’m very sad to advise members of the North Chapel community that Visal Poeu, one of the six children we have supported in Children’s Development Village over the past five years, died at the Children’s Hospital in Siem Reap on Wednesday evening October 14 2015.
As most of you know, Visal has battled bravely over the past year during his treatment for leukemia as he endured four rounds of chemotherapy in Bangkok. Although the initial prognosis for his recovery was cautiouslyoptimistic, unfortunately his health took a rapid decline over the past couple of weeks.
Visal came to CDV as a three-month-old almost 10 years ago, and lived his entire childhood in that happy, loving environment. He was a joyful, energetic, and loving little boy who absolutely adored Venerable Somnieng, in every way his father. Our thoughts and sympathies go out to Somnieng, all the children at CDV, the loving caregivers who supported Visal through his illness, and the rest of his grieving Life and Hope family.
(Photo: Visal returning to be with his friends at CDV in August )
Life and Hope: Updates on Visal and Somnieng (end of June 2015)
Visal finished his fourth course of chemo in mid-June. His white blood cell is still zero, and although this is normal, it is still a risky time for him. So he will will stay in the hospital for one more week, and before he is discharged the doctors will do another bone marrow test and a full body scan. He will probably check out of hospital in early July, but for the first month, the doctors suggest he stays in Bangkok, so they can easily follow up. As long as he is healthy, he can finally return to CDV it in a month or so, but will need to return to Bangkok each month for further blood tests and checkups.
Regarding Brother Somnieng, as advised earlier, he was appointed an Advisor to the Minister of Commerce, and acts as Deputy Chief of the Minister’s Cabinet. His new career has taken him to Phnom Penh where he lives in an apartment with his mother. He hopes the knowledge and experience he gains in the workings of government will help him further his commitment to the poorest and most disadvantaged people in his society. He remains active with Life and Hope Association as a board member, an advisor to LHA’s new Executive Director Venerable Loeurm, and to the extent possible, a hands-on worker with LHA’s kids, young women and families.
Visal Completes Third Round of Chemotherapy
Visal, one of the six children the North Chapel has been supporting for the last five years at Children’s Development Village in Cambodia, is now out of hospital after his third round of chemotherapy. Unfortunately, his red blood cell count has not increased as much as hoped, and he will stay in Bangkok until the end of May so the doctors can monitor his progress. At that time, the decision will be taken about whether he can return to Cambodia to be with his friends and CDV family.
In the meantime, he is receiving excellent medical attention and good nurturing care from CDV house mothers who rotate through Bangkok so that he always has someone to care for him in the hospital. He also receives regular visits from Venerable Loeurm, the new executive director of Life and Hope Association, and brother Somnieng, our very good friend who left the monkhood last month, and is now pursuing other ways to support the disadvantaged children, young women, and families to whom he maintains an ongoing commitment.
In response to some questions about Somnieng’s decision, the following might be helpful. Unlike the Catholic priesthood, the Buddhist monkhood typically does not involve a lifetime commitments. Most young men become monks for only a few months or a few years – often only until they complete their education in the pagoda. By committing to his mission through 20 years in the monkhood, Somnieng was a notable exception. Now, with a sense that he had achieved his initial objectives at LHA, he believes he can have more leverage in making change through the political system. But he remains extremely committed to LHA is a board member, Senior Advisor to the Executive Director, and an external representative. We all wish him well on his voyage.
Photo Caption: Sochea, a graduate of LHA’s Program Advancing Girls Education (PAGE) and now a house mother at CDV, takes Visal out of hospital. She is rotating with Pisey, another PAGE graduate who has been caring for Visal.
Photo Caption: Brother Somnieng visiting Visal in Bangkok a few days after leaving the monkhood.