I'd planned to tell Mom how much I loved her, but it was too late. I swallowed the lump in my throat and instead all I could hear myself say was, "Mom, I can't look at you, because if I do I know I'll lose it." We took one step, then another, and walked what I didn't know would be the last walk we'd ever share again. And just like that, she gave me away.
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A quiet, but alarming, trend is happening in Cambodian "orphanages." Instead of predominantly serving the needs of children whose parents have died, these institutions are increasingly being filled with children from poor families whose living parents are seeking better opportunities for their children's future.
Maybe you don't know this about me, but I was against the Vietnam War when I was a teenage girl living in Franklin Square, Long Island. Political activities in high school were a given for me from the time I entered the 7th grade in 1963, but that political activity was about running for class officer, magazine drives, the prom, dances, plays, and advocacy for the maintenance of the candy stand and making sure that all seniors had a Snoopy, the Class of 1969 mascot.
As you meander through the hills of the Kanungu District, amid the dusty roads dotted with potholes, you can't believe that someone would have thought to lift up the health and social well-being of this remote community. HIV/AIDS has ravaged families here, and vulnerable children go without many basic human needs.