I made it. I touched down in Cambodia. Today marked our first official day in Cambodia, despite us arriving late last night. As it was late and everyone was tired, the trip didn’t really start until today. And my word, what a start. It’s been a long and at times draining day. And as I sit in my room and reflect on the day, I realise that I’m experiencing a range of emotions; anger, heartbreak, confusion. The things we have seen today have left me pained and asking questions. Questions that I will likely not get answers to anytime soon.
If you don’t know much about Cambodia, let me give you the quick version: to say they have had a rough few years is an understatement. The country has experienced horrific things at the hands of merciless and zealous leaders. Its experienced heartbreak and pain and destruction that has left a legacy of pain and in some instances, trauma. That was evident today when we went to explore the one of the prisons that were in use during the reign of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, along with visiting the Killing Fields. If you dont know much about Pol Pot’s reign I would encoutage you to look it up however I will warn you that it is not for the faint hearted. I struggled today walking through the prison and looking at the torture rooms, equipment still in place from accompanied by a photo of someone that had been tortured on it. I struggled as I walked through the holding cells that the prisoners were kept in. And I struggled as I learned about the inhumane torture of men, women and children.
One of the hardest parts of the trip for me today was looking at the countless pictures of the prisoners. Men, women and children of all ages, tortured and executed. And as I stood looking at the pictures, this one picture of a little boy stood out from the rest. He would have been no older than five but he had the eyes of an old man, pain evident in his eyes and resignation on his face. I found myself stuck infront of this little boys picture, struggling to compose myself and not burst into tears. In that moment, my heart grieved for this little boy that had no name attached tohis picture. I grieved for his mother and father who likely knew that he was killed at the hangs of gaurds that valued a bullet over a human life. My heart was grieved further as I walked through the Killing Fields and stared up at a monument filled with skulls of the prisoners.
I remeber at one point today looking up to the sky and thiking, God, how your heart must grieve for your children. This isn’t what we were created for; we weren’t put on this earth to destroy each other but to love each other and walking through the fields I didn’t see much love, just remnants of a country trying to rebuild itself after countless atrocities against it. Walking around the grounds, I felt my anger rise up the surface; this wasn’t fair and it shouldn’t have happened. Thousands shouldn’t have died because of the views of one man. But then again, it’s not different to what’s happening in our world today, is it? We’re still killing each other because of a differenceof opinion, aren’t we?
As I lay inbed last night and let the day float through ny mind I had one thought: I may not have been able to do anything to help people when Pol Pot was in power, but I can now. We all can. We all can do our bit to help a nation full of resilient and amazingly friendly people who still welcome foreigners in with open arms?
There were a few other standouts from today however I’m still processing them, so will leave them for another post as they were equally heartbreaking. For now I will end with this; I’ve lost a part of my heart to this place in a big, big way!
P.s. apologies for the spelling!