Boulen was a tuk-tuk driver but he was so much more than that. He helped me and Ando (and MANY others) to find and help the neediest and poorest people he could find in both the city and the countryside of Cambodia. The elderly, mothers, families living on the street, villagers in desperate straits, children needing scholarships, people living in garbage dumps, you name it – he found them for us. And he gave us invaluable advice as to how to best utilize the funds we brough with us to help the poor in Cambodia.I remember that many times he took me to many poor villages in different provinces. His enthusiasm and compassion for the poorest of the poor was inexhaustible even while his own family struggled to survive in Phnom Penh. He felt the suffering of others very deeply.
Once he wept while telling me how he had to drop out of school as a boy to help his family. Then he went back years later as an adult to improve his education and his English. Boulen’s English was always a source of wonder, humor and amazement that somehow one could usually understand what he said although he always spoke in a circuitous route. But he never tired of learning and going to school to somehow recapture his childhood quest for higher education.
Boulen had a wonderful sense of humor, deep compassion, the ability to be a truly excellent tour guide and great patience with all his foreign guests. Everybody seemed to like him whether they were foreigners discovering the wonders of Cambodia, his fellow tuk-tuk drivers or complete strangers. I will always remember how beautifully he interacted with Cambodian children and the elderly (and many of the elderly were in a pitiful condition). He certainly used his ability to connect foreigners and the poor in very meaningful ways. His wonderful.laugh is in my mind as I write this.
He leaves a wife and three children and a nephew or two I believe. Ando and I have already discussed starting a fund to help his family. I will use funds from 100 Friends to help his wife to start a small business in order to support herself and her children in the future. There will be other, more immediate needs for his family as well. Anyone interested in being a part of the help for his family is welcome to participate.
The world really need many more people like you. The best tribute we can make will be to continue working to ease the suffering of the Cambodian people (and others).
Boulen, you were loved by so many people. You done well.
Uploaded on May 31, 2011