Young Boy’s Touching Journey Begins With a Fingerprint

Roth Arun cried as he was fingerprinted for his passport application on Monday, another step in the process for those who are seeking permission for the severely deformed 2-year-old orphan to go to the US for medical treatment.

On the way to the passport office Monday for photographing and fingerprinting, Roth Arun was smiling and laughing, enjoying the rare opportunity to get away from the Nutrition Center, where he stays with other seriously disabled, terminally ill and abandoned children.

“He was very smiley and happy, because he was traveling,” said Meng Dy, senior program official of American Assistance for Cambodia, on Monday.

Roth Arun enjoyed the day’s activities with the exception of being fingerprinted and was exhausted by the time he returned to the Nutrition Center.

Without a passport, Roth Arun would miss the chance of a lifetime: Free transportation and medical treatment for a growth on his face, and prosthetics for his missing left arm and leg, offered by Boston Children’s Hospital.

Organized through the NGO Children’s Medical Missions, Roth Arun would stay with a family in Brunswick, Maine, during his post-operative recovery before returning home to Cambodia.

Efforts to secure Roth Arun’s travel documents have been hindered by the fact that he was abandoned by his parents whose permission is needed to travel. The child was introduced to Retired King Norodom Sihanouk and Queen Norodom Monineath at the Royal Palace on Friday, where he received gifts from the royals and played on the palace floor.

Deputy Prime Minister and Co-Minister of Interior Prince Norodom Sirivudh has also taken up Roth Arun’s cause.

“Prince Norodom Sirivudh ordered the Ministry of Interior already to give a passport to the child,” Noranarith Anandayath, adviser to Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh, said Monday.

But police officers at the passport office said Monday that even the support of Prince Sirivudh’s signature, might not be sufficient to secure the child’s documents.

According to Meng Dy, a police colonel at the passport office, Roth Arun would need a letter from the Council of Ministers.

Despite the continuing difficulties encountered in the bureaucratic process, Deputy Chief of National Police Sau Phan said Monday that Roth Arun shouldn’t have any further problems.

“If [Roth Arun] does not have any parents, just fill in the [passport] form saying he is guaranteed by an NGO,” Sau Phan said.

Meng Dy said he also remained optimistic that a letter signed by Prince Sirivudh may be enough to get Roth Arun his passport .

“I will call [Prince Sirivudh’s staff] tomorrow to get the letter after the prince signs,” he said. “Then I will take the letter to the passport office.”

(Additional reporting by Prak Chan Thul)

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