A collection of stories from survivors of the Killings Fields.


It seems like I have neglected this site this past year, but my resolution is to make a concerted effort to push more stories out. 2016 was a busy one with work life cutting right in to my personal time, causing a bit of imbalance with many things I would like to get done. As I navigate that, I’m hoping to create more boundaries and dedicate a certain amount of time each month to regularly update here.

2016 was also quite emotional with the news media cycle as more coverage of the Syrian crisis unfolded. I imagined that’s what it was like 40 years ago as the world discovered the atrocities of what had gone on in Cambodia. Watching that and listening to these stories, it’s as if I had gotten a chance to go back in time to see my family’s experience. Unfortunately, this is the present day, and these events repeating itself is no less heartbreaking. The fear dialogue surrounding those running for their lives has compromised our abilities for empathy to see them as human beings, just like us, who desire safety and opportunity to pursue a life of value. So I feel it is more important than ever to gather these stories and share them. Perhaps, seeing life through the eyes and experience of some one else can help us all become a bit more open, change some minds, and move forward with compassion. Our humanity desperately needs it.

I made it here because some one showed us kindness along the way, they opened their doors and created a path where we could pursue a life free from persecution. To me, that has always been America and is the America I know and love. So I would like to dedicate 2017 to helping us become a little less fearful, and maybe a bit more open hearted, by inviting more voices to this website.

Happy Khmer New Year | Soursdei Chnam Tmei!

This year, our Khmer community in CT is bringing back a big celebration for the Cambodian New Year. Unfortunately, I’ll be missing out on it, traveling out of town. I’m proud that the community has come together in such a way to honor and celebrate for all. It’s a wonderful thing and really great for the next generation to celebrate their heritage and traditions. It shows how strong our community is and dedicated to rebuilding after all that was lost.

This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the Khmer Rouge takeover of Cambodia. April 17th, 1975, when my parents were in their early 20’s with two kids in tow, they were forced to leave their home in to the wrath of Angkar. Where, eventually, 2 million people would perish, including my two sisters among many other family members.

Those were the events that lead my parents to the U.S. When they escaped to the refugee camps, my parents decided they should start their new life in America. I can’t imagine going through what they went through and to pack up with nothing but their children and the traumatic experiences they just lived through… it’s incredibly brave and inspiring.

My parents wanted us to have a better life, and in my opinion they achieved that. I am very fortunate to have the freedom and opportunities that this world presented me. I know my family went through unimaginable hardship to get us here, suffered severe losses, but still pulled through so that I can be here today.

Now, 40 years later, we must always remember and honor those that have fallen under the hands of such cruelty. Take time to pay our respects for those loved ones, lost and still with us today. We must also celebrate life by ringing in the new year with much gratitude and happiness, because those before us would want us to live our life going forward. And still among us, the generation that carries deep scars from their wounds under the Khmer Rouge, recognize those wounds, and be inspired by the bravery that brought them here. Get to know their legacy, their strength, and understand that’s where we come from.

It’s Spring of 2015, marking some new beginnings as things come to life again. We have been working on a new logo and putting together our new site, along with gathering up some more stories.

I’m very excited for Khmer Collective’s new look as we push things forward. Things wills continue to move forward, these stories need to be heard and the dialogue has to be opened.

Please stay tune and check back.

All the best!

April 17th, 1975, the day the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia and began their reign of terror by turning the country in to a mass labor camp. They marched in to the Phnom Penh and forced the people into the jungle to find their fate in either forced slave labor or death.

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It’s really moving to see a Cambodian film directed by Cambodian film maker Rithy Panh, make it’s way to being nominated for best foreign picture at this year’s Oscars!

Cambodia’s first OSCAR®-nominated film, Rithy Panh uses clay figures, archival footage and voice-over narration to tell a deeply personal story.

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Cambodian-American playwright and actor Vichet Chum’s autobiographical piece

All For One Theater Festival at Cherry Lane Theatre
38 Commerce St. New York, NY, 10014
Sun., Oct. 27th @ 7:00 pm | Sat., Nov. 2nd @ 1:00 pm
Sun., Nov. 3rd @ 4:00 pm | Fri., Nov. 8th @ 7:00 pm

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Dengue Fever live at Le Poisson Rouge for Season of Cambodia was absolutely AMAZING! So was Bochan, who opened up the show. And, guess who won Le Poisson Rouge’s Instagram photo contest?

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Ok, this is just really cute, and it features 160 kids from a slum of Phnom Penh, all for a great cause.

Searching the internet I found this poem written by a survivor.

Hear Me Now:

A poem by Sophal Leng Stagg

Peaceful times have gone away

Long gone, so far, so far away
Let me live as I will you

Peaceful times as we once knew
The young, the old, so sad these day

So sad, so scared, are we
I have closed my eyes to run away

Run away to peaceful days
Mother please stay with me

Don’t go, please stay close to me
I need you now to help me see

To see the days of peace for me
Help me find those peaceful times

The times we laughed when we were free
No more pain, be at peace”

Each year on June 20th the United Nations and countless civic groups around the world celebrate World Refugee Day.

World Refugee Day was established by the United Nations to honor the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homes under threat of persecution, conflict and violence. Millions need your help.

Take action:

World Refugee Day