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Glowing Reviews of The Boy With A Bamboo Heart on

By Phuong Nguyen on November 11, 2015
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The most remarkable thing about the book is the steady flow of insightful word choice revealing a depth of sensitivity, skill and dedication that Chantal Jauvin adopted in writing the book. “I had to acquire the skin of an orphan who begged for his food, carried and used a rifle as a boy, took the vows of a monk, and dedicated himself to social work,” Jauvin said. From the very first lines about Lek’s mother’s funeral, the details of the scene, the physical separation distress of an orphaned boy when accompanying its mother’s corpse to the pyre, the inner feelings of the five-year-old Lek depicted vividly can bring readers to tears. This skillful narrative remains consistent throughout the book, from the harrowing experiences of fighting in the jungles to the struggles with the depths of poverty. Readers will find themselves immersed in the illuminating descriptions of Thai exotic landscape, of the Buddhist ways and practices and will be surprised by how deep Chantal delved into the life and culture of this Asian land.

Somewhere in the book, readers can find a spiritual pathway of a young man who keeps trying his best to navigate his inner-self in seeking of enlightenment, either when being a monk and later a baptized Christian. All we can see is his courageousness, determination to fight against the evils inside himself, to overcome moments of self-loathing in search for love and great deeds. The author also shows her masterful skills in using conversations to deftly answer some spiritual questions we all struggle with.

The story is, by all means, no short of a hero’s journey, the type that Joseph Campell has generalized in The hero’s journey. The beauty of this unique journey lies in the fact that it is a true story of an ordinary person becoming a hero not by superpower but by making difficult choices in many heart-wrenching situations. “The world has much need for everyday heroes, the people who inspire us to reach a little further, a littler higher, or a little longer. The people who set our imagination on fire and make us believe that if we try hard enough, we can make a difference.” Chantal Jauvin, in writing Dr. Amporn’s story has given inspiration to not only Thais but to anyone who thinks their obstacles in life are insurmountable.

Chantal has incorporated her sharp mind of an acclaimed international barrister and her quest for exploring other cultures and connecting with people from all walks of life into writing The Boy with a Bamboo Heart, which makes the book a riveting memoir of a no ordinary life.

A picture of Dr Amporn taken circa 1963 #boywithabambooheart

A picture of Dr Amporn taken circa 1963

By Eduardo S. Canlas on November 4, 2015

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It is that one valued mark of civilization that a book, great or not, written about a person, heroic, ordinary or otherwise, could have the power to turn us into students once again, affording us another chance to learn about the life of a someone we once had a shallow acquaintance with but never really knew.

Until we read about his life in a book written by a someone like Chantal Jauvin who cared enough to know him and who was patient and bold enough to tell his story.

We knew Amporn as one of our students in the Philippines and his nine months as one of some forty-five others in SEARSOLIN institute did not give us a clue of his earlier life as Lek, the Cambodian orphan and eventually a street scavenger and boy-soldier mercenary fighting the French mercenaries of IndoChina before his life changed when he was mentored and supported by Father Bonningue who hired him and then sent him abroad on a scholarship.

As assistant to the institute director Father Masterson. it was our job to plan the curriculum, teach the subjects and micro-manage the course, and while we knew that “great things” were in the offing for our trainees who were sponsored by the Jesuit missionary activities in the southeast Asian countries, beyond that nothing else was actually in our direct view, for while every trainee was required a development plan: their dreams, their visions, their hopes were theirs alone and their sponsors. All that Amporn did in our institute was to study, read and learn English.Read more ›

By Jean W. Fisher on October 16, 2015
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From a frightened orphan, the 5-year old Lek, to the accomplished Dr. Amporn Wathanavongs, the subject of this book is a wonder of courage, determination and love. The fast–paced first person narrative takes the reader from the poverty of a Thai village to the jungles of Cambodia, then to a Buddhist monastery, a Catholic Cathedral in the Philippines and finally back to Thailand and fulfillment with struggles every step of the way.
The culmination of the story is Amporn’s prayer and confession to the Virgin Mary, in which he tells of his hunger-driven stealing as a child, his days as a child warrior in Cambodia and his suicide attempts. This cathartic confession is a turning point in Dr. Amporn’s life and in the book, after which he founded the Foundation for Rehabilitation & Development of Children and Family (FORDEC), a non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to helping children, youth, families and the aged who are poor, handicapped, wandering, homeless, addicted to drugs, abused, or have HIV/AIDS.
Dr. Amporn told his story to Chantal Jauvin, who skillfully preserves his voice throughout this suspenseful narrative, moving from the very personal to the universal message of hope. As a reader, I would have liked the story come full-circle by hearing brief stories of some of the many children this man has helped. I, for one, will become a supporter of his cause.

Posted by John on 16th November 2015