Seedling of Hope

PHNOM PENH: To see people dying in the AIDS hospices here is to wonder if a country that endured so much suffering in the Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge, can bear any more grief. But Cambodia's agony did not end with the death of Pol Pot and the collapse of his regime. An AIDS epidemic now threatens to tear apart Cambodia's economic and social fabric. Cambodia's government, weakened by decades of civil war, is ill equipped to combat this new, deadly enemy. Many NGOs are stepping in to assist, setting up humanitarian programs all across Cambodia. In Phnom Penh, Fr. Jim Noonan, a 67 year old American Maryknoll priest, operates "Seedling of Hope AIDS Hospice", a haven for people suffering through late stage HIV. The shelter, in a densely populated industrial district of Phnom Penh , opened its doors in 1996. Noonan and his team, funded in part by Catholic Relief Services, provide comfort and compassion to the dying. (click the arrow at right to continue with the story)