As I mentioned in my post yesterday on Writing About Phnom Penh, it was quite challenging to write about my experience and thoughts after visiting the sites in Phnom Penh. It’s very easy to end the story at the negative side. However, during the process of learning more about what the Cambodians had gone through, I also found out about some Cambodians whose life stories provide inspiration and hope in creating a better future for Cambodia. I thought it would be good to finish the series of posts on Phnom Penh on a high note by providing pointers to their stories. Check them out; I think you would be inspired by them.
Sophal Ear is a professor at the US Naval Postgraduate School who works on economic development in post-war countries like Cambodia. He was born in Cambodia, and when he was young, his mother took him and his siblings out of Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge. I found out about him and his story when I was looking to learn about how the genocide victims deal with the topic of justice and forgiveness.
Check out his TED 2009 presentation about his family’s escape from the Khmer Rouge, his Oslo Freedom Forum 2010 presentation about the genocide in Cambodia, and his New York Times Opinion article about the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.
Kounila Keo is a young Phnom Penh-based journalist who uses her blog (the blue lady blog) as a means to speak up her mind about some contemporary topics in Cambodia. I came across her blog as I was reading articles about Sophal Ear. I think she has some interesting postings in her blog that gives us a look at Cambodia from the perspective of one of its young, educated people.
Check out her blog postings with her thoughts about what young Cambodians can do for their country, her thoughts after visiting Germany about what the Cambodians can learn from the Germans about reconciliation after genocide, and her impressions after her first visit to the United States.
Ponheary Ly is a teacher and tour guide in Cambodia who used her earnings to educate poor children in the rural area. I first learned about her and her work when reading a travel blog of an American lady who met Ponheary during her first visit to Cambodia and had come back a couple of times to volunteer.
Check out a CNN Hero of the Week profile honoring her work on improving the welfare in Cambodia through education.
The photo below was taken at Choeung Ek as I rested after an emotionally exhausting visit. We were sitting under the shade of a couple of trees, with nice breeze gently blowing. In front of us we saw the memorial stupa in the background, and a Cambodia flag flying in front. I thought that was a wonderful symbolism of the hope for a peaceful future for the people of Cambodia.