A guardian angel of the highest order lives in Battambang and his name is Sok Hom.
I met Sok Hom a few days ago. Now in his early 50’s, Sok Hom trained and worked as a medical assistant while living for many years in a refugee camp bordering Thailand. It was there that he learned to speak English. When Sok Hom and his family were repatriated to Battambang in the early 1990’s, he was unable to find work and now earns a few riels providing medical attention and medications to friends and neighbors.
Sok Hom is married to Keo Vich, the janitorial supervisor at Emergency. They have seven children and many grandchildren; they also support five orphans on Keo Vich’s salary of $115/month (about twice the average Cambodian’s monthly wages).
Keo Vich and Sok Hom live a few meters away from a bridge, and Sok Hom was on his way home from town with some friends – on the evening before Chinese New Year he tells me – when he saw a crowd forming on the bridge and below. He watched the scene for only a few moments, before hearing that someone had fallen through the bridge. He saw that the woman was a foreigner and that nobody was doing anything to help her.
Sok Hom ran down the embankment with his friends and saw that the woman was screaming and crying. He held her hand and comforted her, speaking to her in English. He tried to lift her but she screamed more when he put his hand under her back. Eventually, Sok Hom and his friends were able to place her in a small car (?) and bring her up to the road, where the ambulance from Emergency was waiting.
Sometimes the ultimate and irrefutable truth is revealed by the unlikeliest of sources. In my case, it was a man whom I didn’t even know had been part of the story. Being able to thank him in person for coming to my side has been a great gift.
And so, the bridge that I thought – and was told – was the one I had fallen through, is not in fact, the infamous bridge at all. It’s another bridge, one that I’ve already seen. Hard to fathom, but true…