HOF151: Ouch, Sarin

When the Khmer Rouge seized power in Cambodia, 20-year-old Sarin Ouch was apprehended from his family farm and forced to live in youth work camps where he cut lumber. In 1979, as the Vietnamese army advanced toward the west, the Khmer Rouge ordered Sarin and others to hide in the jungle. The group of escapees wandered for many weeks, facing dangers as well as starvation. Some members of the group died as a result of booby traps or from eating poison mushrooms. By the time Sarin emerged from the jungle in Thailand, he was among hundreds of Cambodian refugees waiting by a roadside for assistance. Soon after, a refugee camp was built to house them. During the following three years, Sarin lived in two refugee camps. His applications for asylum were rejected by many countries, including Canada. He eventually met and married his wife, who gave birth to a son. In time, his wife’s family was resettled in Canada. The family and Sarin were sponsored by members of the St. Barnabas congregation in Edmonton, Alberta.