Saturday, May 17, 2014
She named him Lucky
We met Lucky at our bus station. Our accommodation, the Battambang Resort, sent him to fetch us to their peaceful place among rice fields near the town of Battambang. It was not so peaceful four decades ago as his dad, a local police commander, knew it was time to hide his identity and flee northward with his family. They, along with millions of other refugees, were swept up by the revolution. Lucky's oldest brother was only 12, his three sisters 9, 7, and 5. The family was split up as refugee children 5 and older were sent to distant child labor camps. His siblings worked at making fertilizer by collecting cow dung from the rice fields and mixing it with vegetation. They were worked hard, fed little, and one by one each starved to death. His dad successfully hid his identity for a year and a half, but someone finally recognized and reported him. His previous occupation, like those of teachers, administrators, and doctors, was now a death warrant. He was taken away and never seen again.
Lucky and his mom were now alone, with his mom required to perform hard labor in the fields each day.
Back in Cambodia, Lucky was finally reunited with cousins, aunts and uncles he had never met. His life continued to improve with hard labor as a tree cutter then slowly working his way to buying his first tuk-tuk. He practiced English by listening to radio free America and with tourists. With time, he met his wonderful wife and now they have a four-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter. At 35, his mother's choice of his
Visiting his home, watching him play with his son, made us remember how "lucky" most of us really are who were born in a wealthy nation with significant peace and prosperity. Unlike our new Cambodian friend, Lucky, we know the date of our birth. We have albums full of family photos. We have never had to face imminent starvation and the despair of being completely alone. Though we may feel like we are walking a tightrope at times, there are no real land mines to face if we misstep, just imaginary ones. We are lucky.
Images are of Lucky with his new Tuk Tuk, family and having a traditional Cambodian breakfast with Sally. If you would like to contact Lucky he can be reached from the Battambang Resort or at +855 12687098 (international) or 012687098 (local). Posted at Battambang, Cambodia.