Discovering Cambodia

October 29, 2013
Brandi Friesen Thorpe |

Before a couple years ago, I couldn’t pinpoint Cambodia on a map. I mean, generally I knew it was in Asia somewhere near Vietnam and Thailand. Really I didn’t have a clue about this country. When it came to what language was spoken, what were cultural customs, the name of the capitol city, or any sort of historical background, I was completely ignorant. I’m glad to say that this has slowly changed.

Both last summer and this summer my father-in-law Bill has taken up the missions torch and traveled to Phnom Penh (the capital of Cambodia for those who are learning like myself). Bill has done this to support his church’s missionaries in running an ministry ESL (English as a Second Language) camp. As my father-in-law’s interest and investment in this culture has grown, so has my own.

The first thing I realized when I started researching Cambodia is that in the 1970’s the country suffered though a holocaust known as ---Pot Pen Holocaust---. A dictator regime took over the monarchy and systematically wiped out over a quarter of the population. 2 million out 7 million Cambodian people were killed and laid to rest in shallow graves or rivers.

I’ve picked up a number of books, and if you look at the photos on this post, you’ll see the books covers of some of them. Two books in particular I would recommend are:

1. ‘When Broken Glass Floats,’ by Charinthy Him - In a literary sense, this secular memoir is extremely well written and intimate. The history and culture of Cambodia pours out page after page, letting you journey with this woman from childhood to adulthood.

2. ‘The Tears of My Soul,’ by Reaska Himm - A personal reflection of a holocaust experience, from crawling out of a pit of bodies to forgiving his persecutors. This narrative is a powerful tale of grace and suffering.

If there are other resources about Cambodia we should know about, please, share them.

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