From California to Cambodia: A New Friendship Is Born
From California to Cambodia: A New Friendship Is Born
Carli enjoyed a unique experience that sponsors don’t typically have. She had the chance to meet Maly before she began sponsoring her.

In 2014, Carli was in Cambodia on a group volunteer trip. One day, she was volunteering at a dental clinic and 70 or so children showed up for free dental work. There were only 20 appointments available that day, however.

With limited command of the Cambodian language, Carli needed help to explain the situation to the children. That’s where Maly stepped in.

“This darling girl comes up to me and says, ‘May I help you’?” Carli said. “I told her that she most certainly could, and that was the beginning of our friendship.”

An aspiring medical professional, Maly, now 20 years old, was also at the dental clinic as a volunteer. She also speaks English well and thus was able to help interpret for Carli.

From there, Maly and Carli struck up a conversation. Maly told her about how she ended up at an SOS Village. She told Carli how her mother died when she was just an infant; how her father abandoned her when he found a new wife; how her grandmother struggled to care for her because of limited financial means; and how she found a new home at an SOS Village in 2007 after being referred by child welfare services.
 
Maly (top, second from left) with her SOS Family in Battambang, Cambodia. There are about 180 children growing up at the SOS Village.

It wasn’t long after Carli met Maly that she decided to sponsor her.

“When she found out that I was going to sponsor her, she said: ‘now I have two moms’,” said Carli. “I got so many hugs from her.”

“I felt very happy and almost cried at the time,” added Maly.

Right now, Maly is in the 12th grade and is studying hard for her exit exams. She hopes to get a scholarship and attend university to become a nurse or a doctor. She currently volunteers at a hospital in Battambang.

Asked to reflect on what Carli means to her, Maly said:

“I think it’s very important that we have sponsors. Without sponsors to help us, we at the SOS Village couldn’t live comfortable like we are. Maybe we’re still in our hometowns with nothing to eat, no suitable clothes and no chance to go to school or get a good job.”

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