Leng was born in Cambodia in 1966, where he grew up with his four sisters and two brothers. Their parents were originally from China.

Leng’s father died during the war in Cambodia and Leng also saw someone take his brother away.

After the war, the family moved to Vietnam and lived in a refugee camp for 10 years. Life was hard in the camp. Leng’s brother had to sell empty cans to earn money to pay for food for the whole family and rice was rationed to nine kilograms per person per month.

The family waited 10 years for the immigration documents that would allow them to move to New Zealand.

Leng became unwell and got very angry. His behaviour was much worse in New Zealand than it’d ever been in the Vietnamese camp and he was eventually taken to a mental health hospital. Leng remained quite aggressive towards other patients and also harmed himself while in the institutions.

Leng has lived in Spectrum Care’s Pallant House for about six years. He’s a very cheerful person, who always has a smile on his face and can be jovial at times.

From 10am to midday every second Sunday, Leng goes to the Buddhist temple. Leng is a very spiritual man and is very keen on his own culture. Staff bought Leng a black gown and he wears this when he goes to the temple to pray.

When he visits his mother and his sister, Leng will pause and pray in the prayer corner, and join his hands together before greeting his family.

Leng goes to Aspirations Services Monday to Friday from 10am to 2pm and takes part in gym, music, computer skills, singing, sports and literacy. He likes to write the alphabet, and is a very neat and tidy person. He also really enjoys going to tai chi on Thursdays at the Manurewa Recreational Centre.

Over the past three years, Leng has become calmer and less aggressive. Leng’s life has improved and some of this may be attributed to his religion.

Leng has witnessed some very distressing events in his life and these have affected him deeply.

In the past, he’s been alienated from his culture and has had to learn to communicate in a country that is very different to Cambodia. Though he still has serious health issues, his sister and staff believe he is now happy and settled.


Limited numbers of Extraordinary Journeys are available for $20 (+GST).

To order a copy, email the editor – Justin Walsh – by clicking here or call (09) 634 9788.

You can also download a copy by clicking here.

© Spectrum Care Trust Board
Extraordinary Journeys
Published by Spectrum Care Trust Board