Displaced Yankee Productions | Last Day

Last Day

We’re nearing the end of our run here and both Art and I are tired and ready to come home to California. (I’m sure Art’s wife is ready too) It will take some time to process everything I have seen and gotten footage of and now I am about to embark on the exciting third phase of the project, the beginning of the editing process. Hopefully, by the time we return to Cambodia in January, we will have a rough cut ready of the film.
We began our last day filming by heading to CCF for Layseng’s formal interview. On our two previous attempts to interview her, she was either sick or in a distraught mood. Honestly, I was expecting to arrive and not have her available thus putting off the interview till January. However, not only was she finally ready, she was in quite a talkative mood, speaking for more than a half an hour about her life. She basically talked longer than all the other CCF kids put together. It was wonderful and she shared many moments about her life that were insightful and touching. Layseng is a child from Stung Meanchy. She worked in the dump for long days scraping through the trash heaps looking for things to sell. She spoke of her alcoholic father and how her parents would fight. She also told how afraid of the big trucks she was – her uncle fell asleep on night at the dump and had his head run over by one of the trucks, killing him. She also wants very badly to learn English so she can speak to foreigners that come to visit. Layseng has always been a sickly child and suffered tremendously in the dump while she lived there. When she came to CCF she had a host of medical problems that they are still working to solve. She had just returned that weekend from a visit to the dump to see her parents and small baby sister. The evidence of the trip was quite visible – she had picked up lice while she was there. Art has been teasing me the whole trip about my cuddling with the children and coming home with it myself. He’s got me so paranoid, I’ve been checking in the mirror three times day.
After lunch we brought our little guy Chharram to visit his mother and sister. He was very excited. We got another lesson in just how smart this street boy is when I told Ny something in English about heading over there in a Tuk Tuk and he proceeded to translate the whole conversation into Khmer. Although he cannot speak it very well, his English comprehension is really outstanding. Once we got to his family’s street corner we greeted his mother. Chharram spent a few moments with her but his primary mission was to find his baby sister. He ran through the courtyard of a nearby pagoda calling her name. Suddenly, she appeared buck naked and soaking wet from where she had been playing in a tub of water. Her mother stuck some pants on her while she flirted with us from a distance. As soon as she was clothed, she ran with outstretched arms into Chharram’s. They both laughed with delight and he scooped her up in his arms. They spend some time hugging and chatting and playing for the camera. It was so touching to see how deep their bond us. Everyone is determined to make sure as soon as she is old enough, his sister will join him at CCF. Art decided they both needed shoes so we walked with the kids to the corner market where he bought them both a pair of socks and shoes. I always suspected he was an old softie. They were delighted with their new possessions and strutted back to their mother’s pallet to show them off. Too soon we had to gather Chharram to return to school. He said his goodbyes and hopped back in the Tuk Tuk. As we drove by his old beggar stomping grounds by the National Museum, he couldn’t resist calling out to and waving at his old gang with a bit of smug pride at his new status as a school boy. Who could blame him? A lot has changed in this boy’s life in just one week. Once we returned, Allie told me Chharram had just been enrolled in a photography class. He was very excited. We said our goodbyes to the kids for a few hours to head back to the hotel to freshen up. Borom, Ny, SoPhy, Pou Mab, Art, myself, Nin, Allie, Fiona and Scott are all having a wrap party dinner tonight to celebrate the end of the shoot. Art and I are flying to Taipei tomorrow and will be attempting to get on a standby flight to Los Angeles once we get there otherwise it is another night in Taipei and then on to Los Angeles Wednesday. This will be the last blog entry of the trip. As we get ready to embark on that long 24-hour travel day, I’ll be leaving with a sense of pride in what has been accomplished, not simply for the project, but for two boys – one from the streets and one from the dumps, who have found new life in a safe haven. They are just two out of thousands, but their stories, lives and voices are just as important.


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