An Israeli child suffering from cancer was sent away from the country by his parents and is currently living without his family in a Thailand monastery, Channel 2 News reported Wednesday.

According to the report, Israeli tourists visiting the country saw a young boy dressed in Buddhist monk attire and were surprised to hear him speak Hebrew. After approaching him, the tourists learned that the child suffered from a type of blood cancer and that his parents had sent him to the monastery because they believed the stay there would help cure his illness.

“He began to speak to us in Hebrew,” said Yossi Ben Saadoun, one of the tourists who met the boy. “When we asked him if he got used to solo life in the monastery he said ‘not really.'”

Authorities were speaking to the boy’s parents over the affair, Channel 2 reported Wednesday evening.

The child’s mother, who was interviewed by Channel 2 news, defended her decision to send the child abroad on his own. “Someone who has not seen children in the oncology ward for four years and has never seen children deformed by treatments should not be judging,” she said.

The mother also said she was aware that her son wanted to go home, but that he also realized that he liked it there.

In another interview with Army Radio Wednesday, the mother again responded to criticism of her decision.

“The only ones who can understand me are bereaved parents. This is a traumatic experience, I do not wish it upon anybody,” she said. “In the hospital he said he wanted to go home too. As long as they tell him there [at the monastery] that he should stay, he’ll stay. I’ve met people there who have been cured.”

On the other hand, Ben-Saadoun claimed that “at least twice, the boy told me that ‘everyone here knows I want to go home.'”

Ben-Saadoun added that the child seemed to be extremely unhappy.

“It’s difficult for me to see a Jewish boy in a monastery in Thailand who immediately upon seeing us gave us his mother’s phone number,” said Ben-Saadoun.

“Every day, he is not allowed to eat there until noon,” Ben-Saadoun said. “My goal is to make every effort to return him to Israel. I do not believe that the child will recover through the Buddha and statues.”