Chaktomuk Junior High School student Chhim Sathuka had such a serious case of asthma, he knew he wouldn’t live long.
So he took the $200 he had saved and asked his parents to use the money to build a garden for him at the school he loved.
Chhim Sathuka died a year ago on Feb 13 at the age of 13. Today, his garden surrounds the school flagpole where children gather to hear the national anthem.
Every Monday morning, when his friends and other students meet at the flagpole to raise the Cambodian flag, they think of him.
“If he could have lived, he would have been a good citizen in our nation,” said friend Khun Chauvoleak, a ninth-grader at Chaktomuk.
Even the site of the garden is a testament to Chhim Sathuka, former classmate Tep Keo Vorleak said. Chhim Sathuka chose the site around the flagpole, which used to be a small pond, because he saw young children playing in the brackish, diseased water, Tep Keop Vorleak said.
School Director Dam Soeun agreed. “He was smart to choose this place,” he said. “It is rare to find such a person on earth.”
Chhim Sathuka’s father, Chhim Samanh, is an official with the Ministry of Education. His mother, Som Sereyrath, works with the Cambodian Red Cross.
They took him to several foreign countries in hopes of curing his severe asthma. After his death, they gave the school a total of $600 for the garden, which was dedicated Jan 12.
The school will cherish the Chhim family’s garden for years, Dam Soeun said.
“It is the place where the school issues messages to students and instructs them to behave well and love their country,” he said. “Chhim Sathuka’s friends and other people will bear him in mind and remember his good deed.”