Our Friend Sory

(Alex) Cambodia was one of our favorite countries so far. There are many different reasons why we think so, one of them is because of a 14 year old boy named Sory.

We met Sory in Siem Reap, an ancient city about 200 kilometers north of Phnom Penh, where we were meeting with the founder of Cambodian Living Arts, Arn Chorn-Pond. He was bringing along a hard working CLA student — Sory. Sory had never been outside of Phnom Penh, so going to Siem Reap was his first time traveling. With Arn and Sory we watched a movie about Sory’s life which had been made by a Cambodian documentary filmmaker.

When Sory was little, his father left he and his mother. As he grew, Sory’s mother started building up a debt in Phnom Penh, so she left Sory at a friend’s house while she left the city to go make money. Sory’s mother didn’t have the money to repay the debt, so the lady had to pay Sory’s mother’s debt. The lady kept threatening to kick Sory out of the house. Sory begged his mother to come pick him up but she said she couldn’t. In Sory’s free time, he would work as hard as he could to make some money, walking up and down the park with a small scale, looking for people to weigh themselves for five cents each. Sory was lucky if he made a dollar a day. Finally, the end of the month came around; Sory’s mother hadn’t paid her debt and the lady was so fed up with it, she kicked Sory out of her house. A 14 year old boy, with absolutely nothing except for a plastic bag of clothes and a scale.

We watched this movie about Sory with him in the room. It was really moving. Sory was there, crying about his own life and his story. Having him in the room with us made his story much more real and alive. I don’t know why Sory was crying; it could have been because he was embarrassed to have this kind of life or because his mother didn’t want him or since he was a boy without a home at only 14, but Sory really impacted us all. Mom went over to comfort him, which I think he really appreciated since he doesn’t really have a mother right now.

As our time in Cambodia progressed, Sory became more and more comfortable around us. On our first night at dinner, he claimed that he knew no English and was very quiet unless he was spoken to. On our way to Phnom Penh by boat, Sory and I were going through our family pictures and having conversations. He even came up to us when he saw us on the streets in the city.

Sory is doing much better now. He lives in his music classroom with three other CLA students. The students treat each other like siblings and are extremely supportive of one another. Sory is now a dog walker and dog-sitter, making $12 a week but he still has his scale. He is focusing on his school work and his musical work (he dances and plays the mini-gongs). We spent most of our time in Cambodia with Sory and his roommates and are now good friends with all of them. I hope to meet Sory and his friends again, maybe next time in the US?

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One Response to “Our Friend Sory”

  1. Happy Birthday, Alexandra! Just remembered it is your birthday today…I think we’ll have to eat some cupcakes in your honor tomorrow! Hope you were able to celebrate in a memorable way. Any cupcakes where you are??

    We miss you! xoxo The Brunis