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[Jocelyn is an intern with the Center for Global Impact—World Next Door’s partner organization in Cambodia.
In addition to writing and taking pictures for CGI’s blogs, newsletters and promotional materials,
Jocelyn is a freelance photojournalist for WND.]
*This article contains mature content and photography concerning the Cambodian Genocide.
Her parents survived.
What was I thinking inviting her to come with me?
Luckily, my friend and coworker, Sreyleak, was gracious enough to accompany me anyway.
“Thank you for inviting me,” she said as I anxiously wondered at the trauma I was potentially inflicting. “My parents never speak of the genocide.”
We spent the next hour slowly touring the various buildings on the grounds of Tuol Sleng—a former security prison. With every blood-stained tile, locked wooden cell and rusted torture device, I glanced regretfully at her unchanging face.
“It’s so sad,” she finally said as we passed through the last corridor of victims’ photographs and approached the Buddhist altar. I nodded as she lit the incense in my hands. I closed my eyes and pursed my lips in an effort to keep from weeping.
Before moving to Cambodia, I had no idea where the country was on a map, let alone an awareness of the tragic genocide that took place here only a decade before I was born. While many years have passed, the effects of a grieving generation are still evident in everyday life.
Families torn apart. Women haunted by sexual violence. Landmine survivors begging in the streets. Most notably, the elimination of education, religion and opportunity continues to keep once wealthy communities in poverty and with a lost generation of traditional wisdom, girls are sold as a source of income. Although the war is over, the fight continues.
The Center for Global Impact (CGI) is one of the organizations on the frontlines working to rectify the generational effects of these remnants of injustice. Through the opportunities provided by its various vocational training initiatives—byTavi, CGI Daughters and the Culinary Training Center—CGI is undoing the systemic results of a genocide which caused an entire loss of national identity.
Against all odds, the cycle of poverty is being broken. Education is being accessed. Families are being changed. And the girls and women involved are being introduced to a Savior who promises to heal and redeem everything.
Journey with me through Cambodia’s past and the healing of its present as this unbelievably resilient nation continues in its hopes for a future of peace, equality and justice.
- Interested in learning more about what life was like during the reign of the Khmer Rouge regime? The film, The Killing Fields, chronicles the lives of New York Times award-winning journalists, Sydney Schanberg and Dith Pran, as they covered Pol Pot’s cleansing campaign firsthand.
- Loun Ung’s national bestseller, First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, recounts her family’s harrowing story from the perspective of a 5 year-old survivor.
- Keep up on the latest news from the ongoing Khmer Rouge Tribunal investigations through the Phnom Penh Post’s daily KRTalk updates.
- Support the ministry of CGI! When you donate online, you can choose the direction your money goes. Options related to undoing the systemic results of the Khmer Rouge genocide include “Care for Children & Families at Risk”, “Mirco-Enterprise”, “Vocational Training” and “Community Development”.
About the Author: Jocelyn is a freelance photojournalist with World Next Door. She studied Creative Writing and Missions at Concordia University Irvine. She enjoys reading, writing and traveling. She also likes butterflies.