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  • I was visiting a Buddhist temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia and was just walking around, taking pictures, when I noticed this boy helping the monks. He was doing what he could to help, but with one hand, as he was holding his right hand up. I told my guide to ask him why he was doing this, and the boy said he had burned it while cooking for the monks and it was now infected. He said that if he held it up, it didn't hurt so much.

    The guide asked him if anyone had done anything for it, and he was told that he was just an orphan boy that the monks took in; his family was gone, he had no money, nothing. The small temple was the only place he could think of to go; it was a heartbreaking tale. In exchange for letting him stay there, he did odd jobs for the monks, such as cooking, cleaning, etc. I told the guide to tell the monk nearby that I was taking the boy to a clinic, and the monk didn't seem to care, which both surprised and angered me.

    At the small clinic in Siem Reap, I stayed with the boy in the room and let him squeeze my hand while a Korean doctor cut open the wound and drained all the puss and blood out; I thought the boy was going to pass out rom the pain, but he never cried. The doctor told me the boy was lucky I brought him there, as it was infected and would have spread and most likely killed him. He prescribed antibiotics and pain medication, and the whole bill was $50. The photo is of the boy after I brought him back to the temple, before I left. I hope to see him again, when I return someday. I gave the senior monk some money to make sure the burn healed, and I hoped the money would go towards the boy, but….

    Most of us never have the opportunity to save someone’s life, and I’m thankful my chance was with someone like this; someone at the very bottom of society, someone no one else cared about, this boy whom life had given a raw deal.
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