Kep City, Cambodia -- The Cambodian smallest province, Kep, was the last step of the visit of Don Ángel Fernández, 10th successor of Don Bosco, to the Kingdom of Cambodia between February 28 and March 2. Leaving Don Bosco Sihanoukville, the Rector Major went along the coastal road to Phnom Penh with the Salesians led by Fr. Roel Soto, Cambodian Delegate and Fr. Paul Prasert Somngam, THA Provincial. The last part of the visit did not long more than one hour, but it was full of meaningful moments like the happiness of near 500 children and youth greetings the Rector Major. The secretary of technical education of Kep and the one of education, joint also the welcoming program.
Anh, a teenager using a wheelchair and a student of the Art Communication Section, was looking from a little far the cheering crowd. The Rector Major did not know that he was expected to sing a song in his honor, but the schedule was already full. Suddenly, Don Ángel left the path and met Anh, placing the traditional flower necklace given to him at his entrance to the school, in the neck of Anh. All his companions exploded in more cheers and it was possible to see his eyes shining of proud.
Disabled people is a common image in Cambodia after years of war and violence that ended with the Peace Process in 1991. Many still bringing the signs of the landmines that amputated feet and hands of children and young people. But in the case of Anh, 18, poliomyelitis deformed his feet during his early childhood, until an American doctor gave him the opportunity to sit down on a wheelchair. In June he will finish his studies in art music and graphic design, opening the doors for a new future.
USAID approved in 2014 the American Schools and Hospitals Abroad, ASHA, to support Don Bosco Kep facilities to be child and young disabled friendly. The project will be fully complete this year, while there are already some disabled youth, 5, attending different technical sections in Kep Province. Anh will remember always that precious moment, when the successor of Don Bosco came to his encounter and encouraged him to go ahead, to a best future for his own country.