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Summer 2023 newsletter


Hang Tran, Cambodia


Vern (left), preparing to snatch another youth’s picture.

Vern is a youth living with developmental and physical challenges at the Home of Hope. He is mobile, has limited vision and needs supervision in daily living such as eating and personal hygiene, etc.

Vern has a tendency of sneaking up behind people to shove them when they are preoccupied in some activities such as art and craft. He does not join others, but snatches and tears the coloring papers to pieces or throws lego parts all over the yard. Then Vern giggles as he dashes away quickly from those he has perturbed.

Other youth and staff at the home have developed a Vern radar to protect their bodies and belongings when he is in the vicinity. His company is not received favorably.

A tender moment between Pa Tin and three of the young residents of Home of Hope. Vern is the one hanging on to Pa Tin from behind.

There is a staff member who is physically strong and can carry the immobile youth between wheelchairs to the bathrooms and to the beds. The kids call him Pa Tin (Daddy Tin).

While other staff usually scold Vern for misbehaving, Vern has tested and found that Pa Tin is too sturdy to be shoved and too calm to be provoked. On many occasions, Vern follows quietly as Pa Tin leads him by the hand, away from mischief-making.

Some differently abled youth do not have control over their bowel movements. Though being infused in foul odors, they regularly refuse to clean up and remove their soiled diapers. Pa Tin knows just how to persuade them to take a quick shower and change into a fresh diaper.

Having modest means, Pa Tin’s clothing and shoes are old and worn-out and have holes in places; yet he does not complain about his circumstances. He has a contented countenance, with gentle smiles and relaxing manners.

Vern often clings to Pa Tin for affection and comfort. Perhaps he yearns for compassion more than his peers, due to being shunned by others for his troublemaking.

Pa Tin’s interactions with the challenging youth are tender and without judgement. He has a stabilizing effect on the differently abled kids as well as other staff. Pa Tin and Vern are great inspirations and remind me of this Psalm verse:

The meek shall inherit the earth;
and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
(Psalm 37:11)

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Hang Tran
A Maryknoll lay missioner since 2013, Hang Tran works with young people living with disabilities at the Home of Hope in Chom Chao, Cambodia.