This is a book of survival.
This is a book of courage.
This is a book of hope.
This is a book of miracle.
This is a book of faith.
“I didn’t know if there was a God, and if there was, I didn’t know his name, but I knew that if somebody didn’t help us, my siblings and I would die.”  

I survived the bombing of Phnom Penh.  I survived the Khmer Rouge’s forced evacuation of the city.  I survived a land mine explosion, malaria, labor camps, and near-drowning in the river.  But when both of my parents died, leaving me the head of the family, I didn’t just need to survive.  I needed to lead my four siblings out of this hell.

This memoir tells how I, a ten-year-old tomboy, playful and mischievous, came of age in the killing fields of Cambodia.  My story unfolds with a series of tragedies as I watched my youngest brother and then my mother die of illness and malnutrition.  The final blow struck when my father was executed, leaving me with no one else to look after me. It was my turn now to grow up and be the leader.  I spent the next year protecting and providing for my younger siblings in the labor camps, but when the Vietnamese invaded and the communist regime came crashing down, I decided that it was better to risk everything in a desperate dash for the border than to continue in this hopeless life.  The journey was harrowing. We had to dodge the bullets of soldiers, avoid the landmines that littered the jungle, and survive a guerrilla attack. When I finally reached a refugee camp in Thailand, my younger siblings at my side, I was fourteen years-old, but I was no longer a child.


Refugee camp. Pictured: (left to right): Peou, Kann, Thy, Hong, Sida