First They Killed My father, Lucky Child

First They Killed My father, Lucky Child

Lou Ung, a survivor of the Cambodian genocide, has written two books based on her life. The first book, first they killed my fatherFirst They Killed My Father, is about how she endured the work camps and trained as a child soldier at five years old under the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge ruled during 1975-1979. Nearly two million people (25 percent of its population at the time) died under the dictator Pol Pot who died in 1998 at age 73. This history and its capitol is known as the Killing Fields.

There is also a book and movie called The Killing Fields based on the experiences of a Cambodian and American Journalist.

A memorial is based out of the capitol Phnom Penh to honor those who were lost and as a reminder of the tragic past in Cambodia’s history to never forget. It is a place to educate both Cambodians and foreigners who visit Cambodia and built around the mass graves that had been discovered from this period. A Khmer Rouge survivor has also built a Killing Fields Museum in Seattle, Wa.

Lou Ung’s second book is Lucky Child that tells the story of the aftermath of her lou ung lucky childtraumatic childhood and the transition as a new refugee to the United States.  Lou Ung has been through much, more than most see in a life time. She has been able to take her life experiences and turn them into her life’s work starting with telling her story and then her activism.

There is now a new movie being made based on her story with Angelina Jolie will be directing for Netflix along with her adopted son Maddox, also Cambodian, working behind the scenes. Both Angelina and Lou Ung met back in 2001 and wrote the script together. They have become friends. Lou Ung says she completely trust Jolie with the telling of her story.

Filming will start in November of 2015. Jolie has stated that this “will be my tribute to the strength and dignity of all Cambodian people.”

I also was honored to meet and talk with Lou Ung. A small woman in stature, but mighty in heart and spirit. She has continued to make me  proud to be Cambodian. Please check out books and movie when it comes to Netflix.

Colonial Cambodia’s ‘Bad Frenchman’, Children Stolen From Cambodia

Colonial Cambodia’s ‘Bad Frenchman’, Children Stolen From Cambodia

Who are the stolen children from Cambodia? They are called Métis, children born from French and Cambodian parents during French Colonial rule in Cambodia. It is a sad and shameful time in history and the lost stories that need to be told.

Here are some statements made  from a series of letters written by the country’s Résident Supérieur in Cambodia, François Baudoin, regarding what to do about the métis:

“There is no doubt that by letting the number of métis increase, we risk seeing the creation of a class of individuals who, living on the margins of both French and indigenous society, would not miss any opportunities to become a source of annoyance and embarrassment to our administration.”

Another, from 1916, reads:
“[…] we must definitively break the link which attaches these children to their Indochinese origins, and even go as far as making them lose all their memories of Indochina.”

*Quotes above gleaned from article, please read recent article to learn more about their story- The Story of Cambodia’s Stolen Children (Recent Article)

Here is a related book I’ve recently learned about and will be reading in the near future. You can purchase it in book form or download for purchase or rent through kindle.

Colonial Cambodia’s ‘Bad Frenchmen’

It is a book about the history of French Colonialism researched from Cambodian and Vietnamese archives

Here is one statement from a review of the book-The Wild West in the Far East – Surprising (sometimes shocking) history at its readable best

You can read more about the book, it’s review, and purchase it here

 

Beautiful Children of Cambodia- How Your Help Could Actually Hurt

Beautiful Children of Cambodia- How Your Help Could Actually Hurt

*Pictures taken by TSIO

The children are friendly and much fun to talk with. They love to practice their English with you. Many of these children are also selling various items outside the tourist areas. It is not recommended to give away money or even purchase the items from the children. The reasoning by various leadership in Cambodia is because it perpetuates a vicious cycle of poverty to continue. The families see it as an opportunity to make a quick few bucks which discourages the kids from going to school and thus furthering their education. In the end it becomes unsustainable by enabling a dependent system that produces another generation in poverty.

The other thing to watch out for is what is called the Orphan Tourism. Some orphanages are not even legit. It can be a big scam and money-maker using kids from throughout the village to create a heart tugging display to reach deep into your pockets.

If you do find a legitimate orphanage, this rule still applies. Children are not there for your display and amusement. You see them, have a good time, and then go home. They see you and only hope that maybe you will be their new home. Well intentions sometimes can actually do more harm.

The best way to help more sustainably is by funding or giving of some real committed time and talents to a solid organization that has been well established. Even better, help empower the Cambodian people in a mutual learning relationship. This will help them continue to develop leaders within their own country as they desire and are very much capable of doing with a little support. It is best to go through your Consulate for recommendations on who and how to best help.

 

The Joy of living, A Cambodian Village Portrait

Stories like these are inspiring. I also like this video because it is the Cambodian people who are taking the lead to make change in their own countries as they are very much capable of doing. I’m sure outside assistance is welcomed and appreciated, but sometimes well meaning foreigners come in without truly listening to the real needs and even wisdom of the people they are trying to help.

Although I also enjoy the shops, restaurants, and parties out when I’m overseas, the villages and country-side are usually my most favorite places to be.

A Vietnam Vet reflects on the abandonment of Vietnam and America’s children

A Vietnam Veteran’s thoughts on meeting Amerasians with Thuy
Vietnam trip with Thuy 2010
amerasians-11
Daughters and Sons of servicemen, what country abandons its own children?
Meeting Amerasians, men and women, and family members today was a deeply moving experience. It somehow connected one deeply to that other reality of 40 years ago. I could see in the faces of the men, the young men, the young soldier. It was a haunting experience to see their faces, as if the past was somehow once again real.

I also became aware of basic thought patterns which I held about the fathers of these Amerasians. One thought pattern which I became aware of as being false is that the men abandoned the women here in Vietnam and abandoned their offspring.

Today I saw the faces of young men who maybe died here a few weeks or days after their liaison or who were medevac to the U.S with body parts missing, or mentally or psychologically crippled. No judgement and no understanding of our individual situations is possible. Who can find fault with a young man knowing he may never see his next birthday to take comfort & escape with a willing tender partner?

If government policy is a reflection of the morals and values of the society as a whole, then surely that society which deliberately turns it’s back on these people, the sons and daughters of its own service men, then that society surely is heartless and cruel.

That same society sent its young men into the situation which must assuredly produce the results that we encountered today. It is therefore the society’s responsibility which created this eventually to acknowledge and support these sons and daughters just as it does any son or daughter born to a serviceman within the borders of the U.S.A. What country, what society abandons its own children?

*TSIO does acknowledge that although there were many Veterans who were not aware of having a child, the fact is that some children and their mothers were also abandoned. This was only one Veteran’s reflections.

Related Posts:  Vietnam Veterans meeting Amerasians in Vietnam for first time