Displaced Yankee Productions | The Final Days

The Final Days

It’s a bittersweet morning in many ways – today is the final day of my shoot and once we wrap – I will have finished the production end of this amazing journey. I know it will be a while before I will make it back to Cambodia. I have a bit of Cambodia coming to me that will keep me in the states for the time being. Lyda, one of the CCF dump kids, has become my ward and will be coming to the United States for surgery on her curved spine. Though I am thrilled to have her experience the United States – the seriousness of the surgery and the responsibility the CCF has entrusted to me weighs on my mind. I cannot bear to think I will be away more than a year from Charam, Hov Nygan, Linna and the other children and know I will have to find a way to visit before long.
I wasn’t feeling very bittersweet at 4 a.m. when we started filming. In a last ditch attempt to actually catch people sleeping in this city, we’ve gotten up progressively earlier. Alas – apparently no one does. In fact, at 4 a.m. there’s actually a BBQ going on by the royal palace. Even the rats are out. One unlucky frisky fellow learns the early bird doesn’t always want the worm as a large hawk-like bird carries him off. Art and I are not particularly enthusiastic about being up and are not really happy with the footage we are getting, so we call it a night (or morning) we both fall back into bed and the shoot comes to a rather unglamorous end. But our last day in Phnom Penh is just beginning. Art takes off with Borom, our Cambodian fixer and Theresa, Megan, Dennis and I decide to try our luck on a riverboat. We run into Scott in the local coffee shop and he advises us to thoroughly check out the boat before we get on it. With that rousing bit of advice, we tramp off down the riverfront and hurry on the boat as fast as we can because the open sewer drain pouring into the river encourages us to move quickly. The ride up the river, however, is peaceful and beautiful. Here on the river, far away from the reality of the city streets, Phnom Penh looks beautiful and green from our vantage point on the boat. Dennis buys a bag of some type of Oreo cookie knock off and Megan and I nearly spit our cookie out at the strong, odd chemical flavor. They have apparently been on the boat for quite some time and would likely last longer than a cockroach if there was a nuclear attack.
I take my leave of the gang after the ride and head to CCF. I have a meeting with Scott, Fiona and Lyda to explain to her what is going to happen next month when she will be leaving everything that is safe and familiar to her and going to a strange country for surgery. Lyda will be staying with a host family in Brentwood. There is some irony in the fact that a girl who has lived in a dump most of her life will be living in Brentwood for a year. Fiona, our favorite Scottish pediatric nurse at CCF, will stay with her the first couple of weeks to meet with the doctors and settle her in as she gets used to spending all her time with me and the host family. Afterwards, I take Lyda, Charam, Meng Ly and Leakhena out for burgers and fries. Charam orders a cheeseburger but it sits untouched as he finishes his fries. I ask him why he isn’t eating the burger and he tells me he is saving it for his little sister Linna, who I am picking up after lunch for a visit. I love this boy. How sweet and thoughtful is that? I assure him I will order a meal for Linna to go and he needs no further invitation and wolfs down the burger as only a 12 year old can. When the kids are finished, I drop off everyone but Charam at CCF and head to his family’s street corner. Fiona has arranged for a midwife to come to CCF and examine Yorn to make sure the baby is okay. On the way, I have to tell Charam I am leaving in the morning and he falls silent and turns his face away. I already dread having to say good-bye in the morning.
Yorn gratefully comes with me to CCF and receives a full check up including an ultrasound. To Charam’s delight – we find out he is going to have a little brother. Yorn tells me when I return the baby will be big and strong. I can only hope this will be the case. Even with monitoring by the CCF, there is a very good chance she will give birth on the street and she has already lost several children.
I bring Yorn and Linna back to their street corner and have tell Yorn of my plans to set her up with her own drink business so she can start earning money on her own. Annabel has agreed to help me get this started and Yorn is very pleased. I tell her I am leaving and will return when I am able. Linna jumps in my arms and hugs me tight. “Mak Tor, Mak Tor” she says. A year has never seemed so far away.


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