Profile of Pau
9 October 2001
Pau no longer has a fever. Just one week ago, shakes, hot flushes, headaches and nausea began to overwhelm the frail body of this 14-year-old. Malaria. The third attack in three years. The small amount of chloroquine that she managed to find did not cure her: In Cambodia, malaria is now resistant to this medicine. The combination drug recommended by the health authorities is only available in health centers. The products sold on the private market are either fake or too expensive. So Pau gathered the last bit of strength she had and walked for several hours to reach the health centre of Anlong Veng, the modest capital of this region in the northern Cambodia. Like many settlers attracted by the lure of virgin land, Pau's family lives in a poor hut on the side of the road that cuts through the forest. Pau spends her day collecting bark off trees, which she sells to Thais. It seems that they make a kind of incense from it, intended to keep the mosquitoes away. At nightfall, when she has gone too far into the forest, she sleeps on the ground. It is at this hour that the mosquitoes attack. Tomorrow Pau leaves the hospital. She will return to the forest - risking her life to earn a living.