As the history of the 1970’s make clear, many people died in Kampot over the decade. How did people recover from this? How did they survive the bleak 1980’s, and start families and prepare for the future?
In this part of the website we want to tell some of the stories of todays Kampot survivors and consider what it says about the people of Kampot and of Cambodia. We look forward to adding to the collection each month.
Our first interview is with Sakun Po;
Sokun was born in 1984 and has lived with his mother and extended family in Kampot his whole life. His father died when Sokun was a young teenager and the family went from “happiness to misery”. His mother, Kong Kimsy, then faced a future without a husband or source of income and had three children to feed, clothe and educate. And her oldest son, Sokun, could not walk, having suffered from polio when he was six years old. This is his (and her) story
When the Vietnamese army invaded Cambodia it was still communists who were in control. Both the invaders and the Cambodians they elevated into government had long entrenched political inclinations and aspirations. The new regime had to somehow separate themselves form the hated Khmer Rouge 1, as many of their policies looked similar to those that had brought such tragedy to their country.
Dutch UNTAC soldiers in 1993, supervising return of refugees from Thailand2
Their situation was unprecedented. “In the early months of 1979, Cambodia barely existed as a nation. Millions of ragged, malnourished Cambodians wandered around a bewildering void, a fragmented landscape of violence, grief, anger and uncertainty.”3 The only elements of social and political organisation were what the Vietnamese army brought with them.