That’s what happened to Srey Mom Ngoun, who lives in a low-lying neighborhood of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. Earlier this year, Srey Mom was playing and broke her arm. The area is dangerous enough. Each rainy season her home is surrounded by several feet of water, which explains why all the houses here are built on stilts.
Getting medical care in Cambodia isn’t easy. In Cambodia, health care for the poor isn’t supplied by the government. So when Srey Mom broke her arm, her family turned to a traditional healer. A week passed, but Srey Mom’s arm still hurt.
A broken arm can be a serious injury. If a broken limb isn’t treated properly, its negative effects can be permanent, especially if you’re a child.
“We have so many poor people here who don’t know how to access medical care,” said Sister Mary Little. “Life here is so uncertain because the poor especially feel the effects of a slumping economy and rising food prices.”
Like many of their neighbors, Srey Mom’s parents raise morning glories that grow in the lake nearby. They’re a favorite vegetable in Cambodia. The whole family gets up early to pick the morning glories so Srey Mom’s mother can sell them.
“They live day to day,” Sister Mary said. “You survive on what you earn today.”
So when disaster strikes, families here need a helping hand. Srey Mom is one of them. Sister Mary discovered that Srey Mom wasn’t getting the right treatment for her arm, and she moved into action.
Sister Mary brought Srey Mom to get x-rays and a proper cast for the broken arm. Srey Mom was grateful for something just as important: Sister Mary’s reassuring presence throughout. “She was so afraid,” Sister Mary said of the girl.
Srey Mom’s arm is still not healed. “She has trouble raising her arm and sometimes needs help getting dressed,” Sister Mary said.
Meanwhile, Srey Mom is doing exercises to improve the use of her arm. Srey Mom’s faith in people’s goodwill and kindness has already grown immeasurably.