A New Arrival: Ennio, the Destined One

It is a very special day when Little Hearts welcomes a new resident – a moment full of promise and anticipation that remains indelibly etched in the child’s memory. Last Friday was just such a day as we welcomed the newest member of the family. His name is Tach Ty, but as we always do with new arrivals who wish to take on a new moniker, we re-christened him Ennio. The name is of Italian origin and means ‘destined’ because we want him to feel that his new life at Little Hearts is indeed the one he was meant to lead.

Ennio’s story is as familiar and moving as a fairytale, and tragic as well as hopeful. A ragpicker searching for recyclables in a rubbish container saw movement in a discarded plastic bag and thought it might be a large rat. But then it wailed feebly – it was a baby, just a few weeks old. Though they were very poor, the ragpicker and his wife raised him as their own and even managed to obtain a birth certificate for him. Eventually, though, they could not afford to keep him or give him an education, so they placed him with the ragpicker’s mother in Phnom Penh, who agreed to take him in and for many years did her best to look after him.

Ennio is now 12, and his grandmother, who is old and frail, can no longer care for him. But she knew someone who knows Little Hearts, and that’s how Ennio came to us. Though he is very thin and underweight for his age, he is a sweet and clever boy. He knows no English, so he will receive a crash course here at Little Hearts in the next few months. But considering his intermittent and limited access to education, he does speak Khmer relatively well.

Ennio’s mysterious beginnings as a baby in a trash heap means that we know nothing about his biological parents, his cultural or ethnic background, or even his real birthday. But that’s OK – our focus is the child himself, as Little Hearts was built to provide a safe and loving environment and an education for abandoned children, irrespective of their origin, nationality, gender, age or health condition.

Some child welfare organisations believe that the best solution for orphans is to be placed with foster families rather than in group homes like Little Hearts. We disagree, of course. Unfortunately, placement in foster homes often leads to poor outcomes when adopted children are treated differently than biological ones, or when they are made to work like household servants or kept from school. At Little Hearts everyone is treated as an equal and receives the same high level of education, personal attention, medical care and balanced diet, and participates fully in the cheerful (if sometimes overwhelming) daily life of a very large and loving family.

We believe that Ennio will fit in well and get accustomed to his new surroundings quickly. His 30+ new siblings are absolutely delighted to have him here and eager to show him the ropes. Please join them in giving him a hearty welcome to the extended family.

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