My family has an amazing story. My mother, her 6 siblings and their mother stand out when compared to many families from their home country. Because they all survived.
My family is from Cambodia. They were there when Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge took over the country in the 1970’s. Their family was torn apart. Most of the children were taken from their home in Battambang and placed in different labour camps across the country. My grandfather was taken to a prison camp and never heard from again. My grandmother was left at home with no money, no food, no support and her 2 youngest children.
Every regular Cambodian family has the same kind of story. Their country, their villages, their homes were decimated. The Khmer Rouge stopped regular life, work, industry, destroyed basic infrastructure and turned the country into a system of agrarian labour camps. During their 4 years in power they brutally murdered or caused the death (from starvation, disease) of 1.2 to 2 million of their countrymen (approximately 1/3rd of the population).
Sometimes it feels like a genocide that the world doesn’t remember. But my family remembers. They remember being dragged away from their home. They remember working as children (my mother was 10 years old) in rice fields, water up to their necks at times, sun-up to sun-down. They remember being scared, starved, beaten. They remember watching the Khmer Rouge leave, and running away from the camps. They remember escaping to refugee camps, finding some family members and not others. They remember going back for each other. They remember walking, crawling across land-mine fields, sneaking across borders. They remember everything.
I’m writing a book of their stories, and that’s what this blog is about.
I’ll be writing 3 types of posts. I’ll write about the process of writing these stories – the research I do/find, the interviews and so on. As I start to compose actual stories, I’ll post snippets and excerpts. As well, I will post interesting information I find about Cambodia as a place – both its past and current state of affairs.