After Seeing Victim Photos, Man Reaches For Checkbook

The first photograph shows Yok Yorn leaning over his grandson weeping, his head gainst the small boy’s forehead, as the mother caresses the boy’s face. In a second photograph, Yok Yorn, his face twisted with pain, squats next to the boy, dead from malaria because the family could not afford a mosquito net.

“I kept thinking I have to get around to donating money sometime,” says Paul Freer, who recently gave $100 to The Cambodia Daily Mosquito Net Campaign. “Those photographs made me reach for the checkbook.”

The photos, taken by former New York Times Tokyo bureau chief Nicholas Kristof, appeared in The Cambodia Daily on Jan 20.

When Kristof arrived in the village, the boy was still alive, but dying from one of the most devastating diseases in Cam­bodia.

“It was quite heartbreaking to see the old man and his grandson,” Freer said. “Very awful to see, but at least it had some effect.”

Freer, who came to Phnom Penh in 1994, serves as the chief executive officer of Standard Chartered bank. He has a 2-year-old son, which he says was the real impetus for donating to the net fund.

“I have a good job and plenty of money so my kid doesn’t have to die,” he said. “It’s nothing, really, out of my pocket, and I ought to be doing a lot more.”

Freer has never had malaria, and has done little traveling in areas of Cambodia where malaria is prevalent. But three times since moving to Cambodia he has been stricken with dengue fever, also known as break-bone fever because of the pain it causes. He recovered each time, but only after a period of “just lying in bed motionless for days on end.”

He is now living in a house with few mosquitoes, but “my boy has a big mosquito net over him,” he said.







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