Cause for Ap­plause

This Cam­bo­dian or­phan de­cided to raise money for kids ‘just like him’

More of Our Canada - - Content - by Pamela Jessen, Cal­gary

I’d like to in­tro­duce you to my friend Sa­muel See­hawer. Sam is 13 now, but he was only an in­fant when I first met him. Sa­muel’s life be­gan not un­like most phys­i­cally dis­abled chil­dren in Cam­bo­dia. He was born miss­ing both hands; he has one fully formed leg, while the other is miss­ing the fibula, and he has a par­tial foot with one small toe.

On June 30, 2004, at less than 24 hours old, Sa­muel was found out­side a hos­pi­tal in Ph­nom Penh, lay­ing in the dirt and sur­rounded by garbage. At a month old, he was taken to a gov­ern­ment-run or­phan­age, where he was housed with the other se­verely dis­abled ba­bies who had been left there. Be­cause these chil­dren are con­sid­ered “evil,” they are given only the most ba­sic of care, and re­ceive no love.

This is where my good friend Char­lotte met Sa­muel, while on a mis­sion­ary trip to “love ba­bies.” There was an in­stant con­nec­tion be­tween the two and Char­lotte knew with­out a doubt that God had put her here specif­i­cally for this baby. Af­ter dis­cus­sions with her hus­band Mark and teenage daugh­ter Talia—and an adop­tion process full of mir­a­cles— Sa­muel came home to Canada from Cam­bo­dia and be­came part of the fam­ily for­ever.

In Cam­bo­dia, there is a non-gov­ern­men­tal or­phan­age called Place of Res­cue, and Char­lotte be­came friends with Marie Ens, who runs it. One day, Marie sent her a pic­ture of a new baby named Sarah, who was born with sim­i­lar dis­abil­i­ties to Sa­muel’s. Sa­muel, who was six now, was touched by the fact she was just like him and wanted to do some­thing spe­cial for her as well as the other kids.

At first, he thought he’d send her his toys, but af­ter some dis­cus­sion, de­cided he’d ride his lit­tle mod­i­fied bike and raise money to send in­stead. That was the launch of the in­au­gu­ral “Sa­muel’s Ride for Res­cue,” which ini­tially raised more than $26,000 for Place of Res­cue. His sec­ond ride helped raise an­other $13,000, fol­lowed by an­other $15,000 in 2012. Sa­muel’s story is amaz­ing and can’t truly be cap­tured here in this small space. He’s been blessed with op­por­tu­ni­ties to meet many fa­mous peo­ple, in­clud­ing the Bri­tish Roy­als dur­ing their visit to Cal­gary in 2011.

Sam turned 13 this past June and spent his birth­day in Cam­bo­dia, vis­it­ing Sarah at Place of Res­cue, where ev­ery­thing be­gan.

His Ride for Res­cue pro­gram lasted for five years, and only ended be­cause Place of Res­cue no longer needed the funds! What an amaz­ing end to this part of Sam’s story.

These days, Sa­muel plays trum­pet and trom­bone at school and re­cently joined the Cadets—he is the first mul­ti­ple-am­putee cadet in all of Canada and holds the rank of cor­po­ral.

Sam con­tin­ues to pave new pathways for him­self as he grows, and I’m sure ex­cit­ing ad­ven­tures await him in the fu­ture. ■

Clock­wise from top: Sa­muel and his soon-to-be mom Char­lotte in Cam­bo­dia; meet­ing the Duchess of Cam­bridge in Cal­gary; in his cadet uni­form.

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