Friday, June 02, 2006

Oral rural history from Ksach Poy

A big thank you is due to Dickon Verey. A couple of days ago, he sent me a copy of a book titled The Monk, The Farmer, The Merchant, The Mother, which I have just this minute finished reading. I found it captivating in its simplicity. Dickon has spent the last couple of years raising funds to build and equip a community centre in the village of Ksach Poy, some six kilometres southeast of Battambang, in northwest Cambodia. The centre was the brainchild of the grassroots NGO, FEDA and has become an integral part of the village community.

One of the ways to raise money was to produce this book, compiled by Anne Best and containing the oral histories of four elder statesmen of the village, all in their late 70s or older. Their true life stories provide an absorbing glimpse into a Cambodia that has seen cataclysmic changes, though the fundamentals of village life is much the same today as it was in their youth. Simple but always a struggle. Mey Sampho tells of his life as a monk; Chinn Muon describes in detail how to farm rice; small businesses have been the lifeblood of Nun Chhuon, whilst Prom Tun was a dedicated midwife and mother. All four stories were fascinating, sincere and told with great dignity. I loved them.

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