In a jungle village called Kortklork Leu here in Cambodia, lives an 8 year old girl who is severely disabled due to cerebral palsy. She is completely blind in one eye and nearly blind in the other, doesn't speak and can't walk. She is wafer thin. She doesn't go to school. Even though her family is extremely poor, she is well loved and well taken care of, to the extend the family is able. The village is remote, even though I can reach it in an hour by car, it's remote due to poverty - nobody considers going anywhere because they don't have the means to. There is no electricity, TV or land line phone service. For that reason, this little girl has never seen a doctor, well not a doctor by western definition anyway. There is zero social safety net here in Cambodia, not a dime comes from government to help in situations like this, so the lucky survive and the unlucky die - that is just the way it is.
Quite by accident, I happened to meet this girl and her mom in their village, around the middle of April this year. I happened to be carrying about 50 baguettes to give out to village kids who seldom if ever see bread and I handed one to the little girl and she put her palms together in her best attempt at the traditional Asian gesture of thanks and bowed, before she reached for the bread - and she smiled. She had me right there and then.
With my friend translating, I asked the mom, if I could set things up for her to bring her daughter into Siem Reap to get checked out medically, if she would be okay with that. Of course she said yes - she's a mom after all. So I got the number of one of the few cell phones in the village to send a message back and headed home. It took less than a day to set things up with a project, that works with disabled kids, to co-ordinate the trip in for the kid and her mom. The girl lives well outside this project's service area and they simply don't have the funds to support the extra patient, but we agreed that I would work something out and they would take care of stuff.
This coincided with the end of the fantasy hockey season. Within a day or two, I received a c.c. of an email that Smack sent to the Commissioner of our keeper league, in which Smack had just romped home to victory. The email simply stated that he wanted the Commissioner to send his cash winnings to me, in support of the work I was doing here in Cambodia. It was an easy redirect to have it send to the project in the little girl's name.
That money more than covered the entire cost of the trip into Siem Reap, including transportation, accommodations and meals and associated medical costs. In two days, the girl received a physical assessment regarding rehab service, a thorough check by a pediatrician, an eye exam and prescription glasses and dental work.
I shared my Smack story with some friends, because I was quite moved by it, and completely unsolicited, the fund for this girl grew by 3X and even with two follow-up trips into the bigs - our young lady still has a cushion to draw on. She has her glasses and dental work is complete now and she has some rehab drills to do at home that her mom can help her through. Her life is better for sure, thanks to the grace of one fine guy - Smack!
Even before this act of generosity and caring, Smack was on my bucket list of folks that I want to meet. We have competed in a couple of different leagues over several seasons and there is no one I would rather have as a fellow GM - he is just that kind of guy.
Smack, if you read this, there is something I really want you to know - the impact of your gift doesn't stop with this one little girl. There is an empowered mother who is teaching a whole village about what is possible and trust me when I say that is pure gold - honestly, it's something that money alone can't buy here, that education of a population. You da man!