By: Yvet Berendsen
support his family. But as the fish catch steadily dwindles, Sari and his family realize their lives as fishermen are changing forever.
traveled to three distinct parts of Cambodia – to the remote jungles of Ratannakiri in the Northeast, the floating villages of Kampong Chhnang in Central Cambodia, and the countryside of Svay Rieng just outside the capital city of Phnom Penh, to live with and document the lives of three young Cambodians and their families.
followed Cha down a steep hill into a wooded area enclosed by forests of banana trees and sugar cane. As this little girl grasped the sugar cane in her hand and began chopping, I was mesmerized. I had never in my life seen an eight years old child so strong, adept, and precise. As she chopped, she stared once into the eyes of the camera, and I knew she was neither looking at me, nor at the camera. She was peering into the souls of all of us. Life for Sav Samourn and her family is changing rapidly. Although she may not be able to grasp the global realities behind this change, I know she can feel the immediate and intense impact.
property. But Khieu’s mother still got very little from the settlement. They had to start from scratch and buy new land and build a new home. And so, Khieu and her family found themselves in debt. Khieu remained at home in the countryside for six months before she finally decided to return to the city and find work in a garment factory. She had become restless in the country. There was nothing to do at home, no market to shop in, no electricity, no lights, and no television to watch. Debt was also weighing heavily on the family and Khieu needed to find work to support her young brothers’ education. Khieu eventually leaves for the city only to return home again when her mother complains of the hard work she must endure alone at home.
clips from the film is at the end when Sav Samourn puts on her hat and gazes into the future with a look of fierceness and determination. The companies may come, the forests may be cut down, but her life and the lives of her children will always endure. It is this tenacity, the same tenacity that ensured the survival of so many families during the Khmer Rouge period, including my own, that gives me hope for Cambodia’s future. This is a decisive moment for Cambodia. And so it is also a decisive moment for the world.
sectors of garments and tourism are the main engines of growth, with garment manufacturing accounting for 85 per cent of Cambodiaʼs exports and employing some 350,000 workers, mostly women. (Source: UNDP-Cambodia and ilo.org)