This is Mr. Him Soreurn.
I call him Om Som. Som is his nickname. "Om Pro" is the Khmer word for an uncle older than your dad's age. "Om" for short. Ergo, "Om Som".
Om Som is a vaccinator and caretaker of the Health Center I volunteer at. He also goes above and beyond for the health of our community members. Our community doesn't have Village Health Volunteers, so he takes it upon himself to connect with the villagers through house calls and home visits. If there is an emergency, he would also drive patients to our district hospital, provincial hospital, or Phnom Penh. Every time I have an incident (which is quite often), he also comes running to help take care of my problem.
Om Som has 7 children and 4 grandchildren. He and his wife are currently living in a neighboring village to mine, but his children and grandchildren lives separately from them. Since he doesn't have many family obligations at home, he spends quite a lot of time at the Health Center to help guard and maintain it.
I asked him about his hobbies or goals. He says "I'm 63 years old already. I don't have many goals for myself left. I just hope that my children will all be able to achieve their goals, and that the Health Center will also continue to reach many people in the community." His hobby is gardening. He plants flowers, vegetables, and trees at home. He is often seen tending to our Health Center plants when there aren't patients around. In his free time, he loves to do creative projects that are related to gardening. He would collect old tires from the neighborhood and turn them into flower pots that look like geese. He also trims certain trees at our Health Center to look like chicken. (See photos below)
Me (jokingly): Om, you can't just have one thing you like. Don't you have other hobbies?
Om Som: I like doing labor too. Like pour cement to even out the ground so that my plants don't get flooded over. Or building some container gardens.
Me: Om, that's still plant and gardening-related.
Om Som: I also like traveling now and then.
Me: Okay, where do you travel?
Om Som: Country side with palm trees or forests. I don't like cities.
I was thinking this is still plant-related, but I gave up after that. This is a man who is truly passionate about tree, plants, and his gardening work. I am truly impressed.
Not only is he the first Counterpart I've ever had, he is also my #1 Counterpart. When I took him to Food Security and Garden Training in March 2018, he showed his passion and participated eagerly in the training. We are also starting a Vegetable Garden project at our Health Center and in our villages, and I could not have done the research or write the grant without his knowledge and help. Despite our age gap, he has also become a good friend/uncle I can rant to when I am feeling down or stuffy.
I feel truly lucky to have met him and to have the opportunity to be working alongside someone like him.