Tuesday, March 10, 2009

School could be built in memory of tragic Thoeun

Thoeun Sergeant

Mar 10 2009
By Vicki Eltis
Surrey Herald (UK)

A 17-year-old student killed when fire ripped through his Cobham home is to get a trust in his memory to raise money for Cambodian villagers.

Esher College pupil Thoeun Sergeant, died in the blaze in Byfleet Road last April when a fire spread through the roof.

His mum Ingrid Morris managed to escape. She adopted Thoeun when he was six years old from an orphanage in Cambodia and wants to help other Cambodian teenagers as a tribute to her son's life.
Former journalist Ingrid, who now lives in Weybridge, said: "Thoeun had a trust fund and I want to set up a charity to add to that fund for Cambodian teenagers. I thought his life would then really have some great meaning. It means out of a tragedy something good will come and I will feel better."

Ingrid wants to focus her fund raising efforts on the Kompong Thom Province, and the village of Leat, where Theon was born.

She said: "There are a number of possible projects but one I hope to start is to build a school. Currently there is a little hut where 67 children aged five to 13 learn in the morning and another 67 learn in the afternoon.

"I had big ideas in the beginning but then you have to think that they don't have electricity, so we have to start with the simple things like desks, writing materials and books."

Ingrid, who is half Swedish, adopted Thoeun with her late husband Karl while living in Singapore. They then moved to Australia, where Thoeun spent most of his primary years.

He was a keen piano player who had been studying English Literature, history and music at Esher College at the time of his death.

Ingrid said: "Thoeun had lots of brothers and sisters who he grew up with in the orphanage and who now live all over the world. He was loved by so many friends from around the world.

"He was very artistic, sensitive and a lovely kid. He was a typical teenager, who had a very difficult start in life but who grew into a lovely, gentle boy.

"He did remarkably well for somebody who started with nothing and who didn't even speak any English."

Friends and family from all over the world raised money for a well in Leat, which they named in memory of Thoeun after hearing about his death.

Ingrid returned from a fact-finding trip to Cambodia on Monday (2) where she investigated possible projects, along with Tabitha UK, a charity which runs the orphanage Theon was adopted from and who she hopes to work with in the future.

Ingrid also has the support of Esher College.

International development officer for the college, Rachel Evans, said: "We are looking for opportunities to support educational projects in Cambodia and it is hoped that in the future students may participate in volunteer work in Cambodia."

Students who are studying leisure and sports at the college are also organising a boat party to raise money for Thoeun's Trust.

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