Siem Reap
Posted November 15, 2009 from Cambodia

I was uprooted 6 times by the time I was 9 years old, by war and extreme poverty. After surviving the genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge I eventually ended up in a refugee camp in neighboring Thailand where I spent the bulk of my youth. There, I focused most of my waking hours, when I wasn’t hauling water or rice for my family, on studying and performing Cambodia’s classical dance. The dance helped me create a feeling of beauty and hope out of chaos and danger. I was stateless; my family had no land that was our own. But I was connected to the land and people of Cambodia, through dancing. You know, when we dance, we mark out the shape of Cambodia's land spirit through our choreography.

When peace was declared, I was repatriated to Cambodia as part of an official dance troupe whose members were given land all together. Then that land was sold off for someone’s profit and we were again homeless, displaced in our own country.

I now have three children. A few years ago I found the courage to leave an abusive husband. Each of my sons has to live with a different relative since I can’t afford a place for us. Because of the physical abuse I suffered I can no longer dance; I can no longer connect with the spirit of the land through movement. But one of my sons is dancing. Maybe he’ll bring that connection back.

My Story: Getting Started

Comments 6

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  • JaniceW
    Nov 15, 2009
    Nov 15, 2009

    We are honoured to have you as a member of our community. Your story of displacement so moved me with your tale of loss, displacement, survival and hope. I am sorry that you no longer are able to physically dance but I hope that your spirit continues to dance and move to the beat of your heart.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and I know that you will be able to transform lives as you share your story, your dreams, and hopes with the community. Here, you can never speak too loudly or say too much. You will meet inspiring women like yourself, who have courageously confronted the conflict that has arisen from the difficult environment they found themselves in. I encourage you to reach out to other members, or start a dialogue by commenting on another journal entry.

    Again, welcome and I look forward to reading more from you.

  • jodelight
    Nov 15, 2009
    Nov 15, 2009

    Dear Siem Reap,

    Chimreapsoah! Soak sabay teh?

    Thank you for your story about your land Cambodia. I see such great strength in your words as you talk about the struggles you have lived through. I am moved by your courage, and your connection to your amazing land. I worked in Cambodia last year, it was an amazing country. I was studying for a summer in Siem Reap a few years ago, and then the following year, I took a non-profit job in Phnom Penh. I love Cambodia so deeply. I think that Cambodian people are the warmest kindest people in the world. I love the language, the culture, the food, the dance. I know there are many problems with land, poverty and education. I wish for so many good things to come to Cambodia. I wish good things for you and your family. Your words are powerful and your voice is so important. Please continue to share your thoughts and experiences with the PulseWire community. I personally would love to connect with you more.

    puak mek, bang srey, your friend and sister,


  • Jacqueline Patiño
    Nov 15, 2009
    Nov 15, 2009

    These stories are the ones we don't want to hear about anymore anywhere in the world. This is why us women MUST stick together in the defense of NON VIOLENCE. This means that we must teach our homes and societies to fight for what they need and want in an assertive way, being firm, but at the same time BEING NON VIOLENT.

    Let us embrace good feelings, good actions, and start to dream again.


    Your son will surely not dissapoint you, but you need to work for your own goals too. I am sure down there, in the deepest part of your soul, lies a dream that must come alive again.

    This community is here to cheer you on! Go! Go! Go!



  • Nusrat Ara
    Nov 16, 2009
    Nov 16, 2009

    Dear Siem,

    I think u should continue dancing. I am not sure how far u can go in dancing u should not give it up either. You used it to take out the pain of your land before. You can use it again to heal yourself. Have u heard of dance as a therapy.

    We are all with you.


  • Anais Tuepker
    Jan 01, 2010
    Jan 01, 2010

    Dear Siem,

    Thank you for sharing your story - it is a powerful one. Wishing you and your sons a bright and beautiful 2010,


  • Dy
    Apr 08, 2010
    Apr 08, 2010

    you are dancign with your words on paper, you can still dance beautifully. keep writing; its beautiful.