When Party is parent: Cambodia's orphans
Phnom Penh — Humanity's heart was touched beginning in 1979 by stories about the thousands of Cambodian children orphaned by the Khmer Rouge's cruelty. Where are these orphans today? Of 207,295 counted in 1980, almost all were adopted by relatives or other Cambodians. A few were permitted to be adopted by foreigners. And 6,224, placed in 27 orphanages, have been trained to become ``the vanguard of the youth,'' according to one government official.
``They are given the best teachers and the best schools. The state and the [communist] Party are their parents. We want to give them a glorious future,'' says Touch Samon, a director in the Ministry of Social Services.
Several hundred orphans were sent to study in the Soviet Union, Vietnam, and East-bloc countries, preparing them for top posts in the Party or government. ``We teach them to love the Vietnamese,'' says a director of a model Phnom Penh orphanage, where portraits of Ho Chi Minh overlook the daily classroom activities.
International aid groups, such as World Vision, assist in the orphanages. ``It's easy to raise money abroad for orphans,'' one worker says.
Under the Khmer Rouge, many orphans were tortured and ``exhibited bad behavior,'' says Mr. Samon. ``We have given them moral education.''