Written by: Marie Ens
The year was 2009. At Place of Rescue 1, near Phnom Penh, ten orphan homes encircled a lush green lawn where children played happily. The beauty and growth of nature reflected the growth of the number of precious children who had come to fill the houses.
In August of that year, three brothers arrived. Tong Heng was 12, Dany, 9, and their little brother, Buntha, was 4. Their parents had died a few months previously. Unfortunately, they had both died of AIDS. Even more unfortunate, the virus had been passed on to their youngest child, Buntha.
With good nutrition and anti-retroviral medications, Buntha thrived. The following 11 years, he grew to be a fine young man. Buntha was not so great at “book learnin”, but he loved anything mechanical and could have had a good future in this area. He had friends and greatly enjoyed playing volleyball with them.
On the afternoon of March 6, Buntha and a couple of his friends,
Reaksmey and Chai An, went to hang out in a field near the orphanage.
They sat there in a bamboo thicket, sharing their thoughts and ideas.
Suddenly Buntha stood up, and at that very unfortunate moment a shot
rang out. Buntha dropped to the ground. His friends screamed in fear
and crouched down low as more bullets flew over their heads. Panicked,
they tried to pull their friend away. To their horror, they saw he had
stopped breathing. He was the accidental victim of some men shooting
birds in a populated area where they should never have been.
As the boys rushed home to tell their housemothers what had happened, the car carrying the shooters sped away.
Most of the leadership of Rescue Centre 1 had left just before this incident to attend an important wedding. News reached them while they were on the way. Nobody wanted to spoil the young couple’s special day, so with hearts that were confused and aching, in an awful mixture of joy and grief, they greeted their friends, smiled broadly for pictures, and ate the delicious wedding feast with gusto. Smiling their goodbyes they got into their cars and sped home in the darkness as quickly as the rough roads allowed.
Buntha’s body had been taken to his orphan home. Shocked and in disbelief, everyone was in a state of confusion and anguish. Soon the police came and Buntha’s body was taken to the hospital in Phnom Penh for an autopsy. The matter is in the hands of the police.
He was brought back to Rescue, Sunday afternoon, March 7. All the children and adults gathered in the meeting hall to say their last goodbyes. The local police even donated money to pay for funeral expenses. Buntha was just 15 years old. For the past 11 years, Buntha has been part of the Rescue family and he had been taught about Jesus. He was a child of God and has now gone home to be with his Heavenly Father. He was buried in the small cemetery that belongs to Place of Rescue 1.
Buntha will be missed by his two older brothers, Tong Heng who works at a Telecommunication company, and Dany, who is in his third year at university.
He will also be greatly missed by his house Mom and “siblings”. Over the years, Buntha has been a little “brother” to many boys who have lived in his household and been part of his “family”. There is now an empty space in the circle as they sit down to eat together.
Now Buntha is feasting on all the glories of Heaven. He would not want to come back, even if he could.
One day we will join him, and together we will again sing our favourite song here at Rescue 1:
“Our Lord is very good.
Our Lord is very great.
Our Lord is very faithful.
He never changes.
Halle, Halle, Lu, Hallelujah”
TONG HENG - 12 years old
DANY - 9 years old
BUNTHA - 4 years old
Buntha's friends - Reaksmey and Chai An
Buntha's brothers - Tong Heng & Dany
Buntha's funeral service
For the past 11 years, Buntha was sponsored by a family from Edmonton, Alberta. They have received pictures and letters over the years and prayed for him regularly. They were greatly saddened to hear the news of his death. In honour of Buntha, they have decided to move their sponsorship to Buntha’s brother, Dany, who is in university.
As supporters of Rescue, many have asked how we can show that we stand with the Rescue family as they mourn?
Here are a couple of ways.
1. Leave a message of condolence below.
2. As Buntha was a volleyball player and enjoyed sports, we have set up a fund for the sports program at Rescue 1 in his memory. If you would like to contribute to this, click the contribution button below and mark your donation as such.
Thank you for your prayers and support for our Rescue family.
Buntha's Christmas Letter to his sponsors