Killing Fields, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

According to locals, the story of the Killing Fields genocide is best chronicled in the movie, First They Killed My Father.

Words cannot describe the events that took place here. As a starting point, in 1962, Cambodia had the same GDP as the United Kingdom. 

After French Colonialism, and the US war in Vietnam came Pol Pot communism. Under his rule, nearly 25% of the entire population of the country was executed. Teachers first. Anyone that wore eyeglasses, or who spoke another language. Anyone with an IQ over 100.

There’s the story of a man who asked prison guards why a young boy was being held with the men. “He couldn’t understand”, he told them. And he offered his life in exchange for the boys life. The man disappeared…and the boy suddenly one day released. He said, “I was never able to find that man’s family to thank them, but i return to that prison site, now a warehouse, each week to pray for his soul.”

It was really the only tale of kindness I heard in a sea of total darkness. Ten year old children taught to routinely execute their parents.

When listening to first hand accounts, the only word that arises time and again, after children’s entire families were murdered in front of them, was ‘hope’. Through torture and beatings lived hope inspired by a mother who told her son that in her dreams, “she saw something special that would come to her boy someday, when the killing was finished.”

All around, mass graves. And bones. When it rains, skeletons still rise up, appearing from grasslands. Birds, always birds of all types eating the Buddhist offerings placed daily around the mass grave sites. If this is what reincarnation looks like, I pray that their now freed souls are at peace.

That one boy, who’s mother had a dream for him, was adopted by a family in Texas. He never again saw his family.

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