Wished the story we are about to share now is a happy and encouraging one. But sadly, no. A tragedy just hit our community again. About once a year now, we have to share a sad news that one of the children in our programs has died.
This time around, it’s Louella - a super sweet and fun-loving girl who wanted to be a teacher someday. Her father died tragically two years ago in a fishing accident. Having lost their father was hard enough, but it also meant the family lost all sources of income as well. Louella persevered and with her mom's blessing, we found her a way to attend school. She contracted meningitis and with no adequate medical care, she died suddenly in a government hospital. Because her family is so poor, they could not afford to transport her body back home, let alone pay for a proper burial.
With great love for the family, our Program Director Weng put Louella in her car to bring the body back home. We paid for the burial expenses and will do our best to support Louella's only surviving sibling, a boy with partial paralysis, to attend school.
Despite health and hygiene training, and the free medicine we provide each child, the reality is we are reaching out to one of the world’s poorest communities. Wish we could say that Louella will be the last one we would bury, but most likely she won't be.
We urgently need to empower sea-dwelling communities to break the cycle of poverty through access to quality education and sustainable source of income. That way, they will have better chances of having better quality of life, and that no child or no one dies anymore simply because of lack of money and access to medication.