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Contemplation in Cambodia

CAMBODIA | Sunday, 9 August 2009 | Views [394]

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA - How can I write any more on the horrors of Tuol Sleng and Cheoung Ek? I've done so already, as have countless others. And they've done a far better job than me. I visited those placed for a second time recently. Their impact was not diminished by time or the fact that I knew what I was about to see. There are no further words (or photographs) that I could contribute.

Each time I come here I see things and hear stories of unimaginable terror. And then I see smiles of such heartfelt joy. I wonder how Cambodians can do that after all they've lost. Then I wonder how Westerners can't do that after all we have.

Tuol Sleng and Cheoung Ek are not tourist attractions. They are memorials to the extermination of Khmer culture and reminders of humanity's ability to be inhumane. Then, as I walk the streets of this city and see happy faces everywhere, monks and moto drivers and a celebration of all they had and lost and are now rebuilding.

I spent two days last week contributing in my own small way to that rebuilding process, thanks to the <a href="http://www.tabitha.org.au/cms/house-building.html">Tabitha Foundation</a>. It's something I wanted to do since my first visit to Cambodia in early 2005.

It will be hard to leave in six days. It will be hard to cope with the culture shock in Australia. Then again, it usually is.

Tags: aid, cambodia, cheoung ek, killing fields, phnom penh, s21, tabitha foundation, tuol sleng


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