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Acid attack victims to receive surgery in US

Mom Kunthear / Khmer Times Share:
Scott Neeson joins Chheav Chenda and her daughter Malita at a press conference yesterday. KT/Pann Rachana

Two acid attack victims will travel to the United States later this month to receive reconstructive surgery from medical experts in Los Angeles.

According to an article by Post Magazine in 2014, Chheav Chenda and her daughter Malita suffered an acid attack in February 2008 as they were on a motorbike making their way home in Phnom Penh.

It said Malita, who was three years old at the time, was sitting in front of Ms Chenda when two men doused them with acid. Malita suffered extensive burns to her body, including her face and arms, while Ms Chenda was left scarred and blind.

The Cambodian Children’s Fund held a press conference yesterday to announce that Ms Chenda and her daughter will travel to California for treatment.

Ms Chenda said she was disheartened after the attack, but now she has hope because of CCF.

“My life has become brighter since I’ve lived and worked at the CCF. My eyes are blind, but my life is no longer blind after I’ve met Scott [CCF founder], who has helped my daughter and I get better,” she said, noting that they’ve lived with CCF since 2011.

“It is still my bad dream,” Ms Chenda added. “My daughter and I are lucky to know CCF.”

Ms Chenda said people look at her and her daughter differently after they became acid attack victims.

“Other people said to me that my daughter’s face looked ghastly, but I always encouraged her to not care about what they said,” she said, adding that the government must prevent acid attacks in the Kingdom.

Malita, who is now 14, said she wants to become a film director in the future and it’s now possible because of CCF.

“I hope that my injuries and scar will be better than right now,” she said.

According to a press release, Fast Forward International, a US-based charity organisation that offers reconstructive surgery to victims of violence around the world, will cover all expenses.

“Surgical visits and three or four procedures alone for an acid attack victim costs about $300,000,” it said.

Scott Neeson, founder and executive director of CCF, yesterday said he is confident the outcome of the surgeries will be successful.

He noted that he first met Malita and Ms Chenda in Stung Meanchey district. Ms Chenda’s family has been receiving support from CCF since then, including for housing and financial assistance.

“I try to keep my own hopes low, but I’m quite hopeful the surgeon is one of the best in America,” Mr Neeson said. “He examined them all before he got involved, so I’m quite optimistic.”

FFI founder and CEO Deborah Alessi said in the press release that the reconstructive surgery will begin within the next two months.

“We are optimistic that there is a lot we will be able to do to help them both in truly life-changing ways for many years to come,” Ms Alessi said.

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