Some faces haunt and cannot be erased from the minds-eye.
I saw her more than 3 years ago. She would be 7 years-old now, I guess.
Her mother was rummaging nearby through a rubbish skip of muck- one of Phnom Penh’s many collectors and sellers of plastic and glass and other recyclables. Earnings are about $2.50 a day.
Her little daughter sat nearby engrossed in a book, although I doubt she could read.
And, I doubt she can read now, either. For although time has moved on, it’s unlikely that she attends school; the family wouldn’t be able to afford the books and the uniform, let alone the daily ‘tea’ money demanded by most teachers.
It’s likely too she has health problems, it was clear her growth was stunted and she was, and probably still is, one of the nearly 30% of Cambodian children who are significantly underweight.
Later she wandered alone amongst the motorbikes, cars and tuk-tuks on a dusty Phnom Penh street. There’s rubbish everywhere, and underneath the bridge where she propped herself up, slowly flows a black river of malodorous water heading for the sewerage treatment plant a mile down the road.
Her brother (I presumed) appeared and they shared some food. It was meagre and they were hungry. He went back to help his mum collect trash shortly afterwards.
I wonder what has happened to them, but have little hope that their story has turned into any sort of fairytale. I gave the mum a little money and I wish it had been more.
Is there anyone you wonder about after the years have rolled on by?