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New arrivals

  • Story Highlights
  • While in a meeting at Homeland, Cassie sees a car from IOM arrive
  • IOM, the International Office of Migration, finds facilities for Thai children
  • Two boys were dropped off at Homeland, but not given a warm welcome
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By Cassie Phillips
For CNN
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BATTAMBANG, Cambodia (CNN) -- Cassie Phillips is in Battambang, Cambodia, where she will be working with the NGO Homeland.

Homeland is a Cambodian organization that works with local underprivileged children to give them some of the advantages they may have missed out on in their early life.

Cassie will be meeting and helping children from the region who have suffered from a range of afflictions. Keep up with her experiences in her blogs and video diaries.

April 17, 2008
I was sitting in a meeting not paying much attention to the discussion in Khmer, as I could only understand every third word.

My seat at the large wooden table faced house number four, the boys' house. The gray window shutters were open, but I couldn't see anyone within the shadowed interior.

Things were quiet outside. I heard the rumble of a car and spotted a large white SUV with IOM logos on the sides pulling up to the office; the scene was all too familiar.

IOM, the International Office of Migration, networks with Homeland and a number of other NGOs to place children in facilities once they are recuperated from Thailand and their families are not present.

The Homeland social worker, who was sitting at the same large wooden table as me, left the meeting to receive the new arrivals.

The driver got out of the car, but left the engine running as he handed the case files to my co-worker. At the same time, I spied the house parent of number four walking in front of his house and closing the open window shutter that obstructed his path.

Immediately, hands from inside pushed through the barred window and reopened the shutter as several faces squeezed between the window bars and peered out of the house toward the running car.

The driver opened the back door and two boys, both wearing gray t-shirts reading U.S. Army across the back in bold blue letters and brightly colored orange and yellow shorts with cartoon character print, slowly climbed out of the car. Not even three minutes had passed before the IOM driver got back in the car and pulled away.

The social worker showed the new boys to house number four and introduced them to the house parent.

None of the kids inside came out to greet the boys. In fact, their faces disappeared from the window and everyone carried on with their business as soon as the car left.

I wondered how many children at Homeland arrived in the same way. I wondered what the two new boys were thinking and feeling. I wondered why no one made any extra effort to greet them.

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