Monday, January 26, 2009


Our journey through Cambodia is coming to a close. As I reflect on the places we have been, the people we have met, and the stories we have heard, I find myself uterly overwhelmed by the problems that exist is this beautiful country and for a courageous people, but also incredibly inspired by the work that so many are doing with Cambodians for their future.

Yesterday we went to an organization called Khmer Ahimsa, a peacebuilding organization focusing on the promotion of nonviolence. The organization is doing great work with communities. But I want to talk more about the director of the organization and some of my thoughts from her story. First, I must give you a little background. She survived bombing raids by the US, three years of "slavery" under the Khmer Rouge, and an abusive husband. As she told her story there are few things that really struck me and I would like to share those thoughts with you.

1. "We (Cambodians) are not insects. We just want to have food to eat."
While every one of us here understands this, it is the message that is lost in war. Foreign governments and authoritarian regimes step on the people and treat them as if they are in fact insects not to be concerned with. Perhaps it is because I am American and in light of even recent history this statement is applicable today not just in Cambodia but all over the world. I believe that until we place human beings at the center of our policy focus, that states and regimes will continue to forget this ever-important message.

2. "He (the boss) was powerful and I was powerless. I thought why does it have to be this way."
After going through so much war and conflict, that she was able to work for her power and to do what she dreamed. Not everyone would be able to continue to endure their situation, let alone change it as she did. I found this a profound statment in the midst of her story.

It is because of these stories and expereiences that we are learning about the Khmer people and how they are working to overcome the conflicts in their lives and it is these people that are truely an inspiration.

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