HOF011: Chamroeum Lay

During the Lon Nol period, Chamroeun’s family moved to Phnom Penh from Toul Koh to escape the onslaught of bombardment. Only later to find himself at the mercy of the Khmer Rouge, where he became part of the youth mobile team, toiling from dusk until dawn. Food was scarce, where one either died from starvation or from the brutal labour.

In 1979, after the Vietnamese invasion, he returned to Phnom Penh and worked for the Cambodian Foreign Affairs department, under the supervision of the Vietnamese government. Being in the government, he questioned the rule of the country and concluded that the power structure was no different than the Khmer Rouge regime. This pushed him towards the Thai border.

In September 1979, he found work in the medical ward at the refugee camp. He eventually worked for the Canadian embassy, where his claimant was processed and later, found he was looking out an airplane window at a landscape filled with snow, with a mixture of emotions awaiting his new life.