A Message from
Over a weekend during the month of February, Thai and Cambodian friends,
including myself, were able to share and donate to the displaced and
troubled villagers of the Thai-Cambodia temple dispute. The areas we
were able to visit and assist included Phum Srol village in Kantharalak
District and Sae Prai village in Phu Sing District in Sisaket Province
in Thailand. We encountered demolished village buildings, which included
homes, shops and other facilities that were all targeted during the
fighting earlier that month.
My personal reflection of the visit was how I endeavored to be an
amenable visitor who could bring about a little bit of hope in the face
of adversity during this unpredictable as well as difficult cross-border
I spoke with a woman in Phum Srol village whose house was completely
destroyed in the troop clashes that had erupted at Puh Makuea Mountain
near the Thai–Cambodia border. She narrated her story even as tears
streamed down her cheeks. She was able to relay the true feelings of the
villagers when she uttered these words: “Extrinsic reparations had been
already and totally paid, but her completely ruined heart is
My heart suddenly went out to her because what she said perfectly
reflected how the fighting caused pain and suffering for her. Solely
providing a new house and other facilities cannot heal her severely
Would anything else help cure the damaged hearts of these men, woman and
children living in the disputed areas but talks between the Thai and
Cambodian governments to reach a ceasefire agreement? Leaders of the two
countries should take the interest of common people into consideration
because all people living in the disputed areas want NO WAR. However,
the two governments unbelievably disregard what their people call for.
Nevertheless, a very heartfelt account arose out of the midst of this
depressed atmosphere. A Cambodian girl in our team was looking during
the limited time we were in Phum Srol village for her compatriot who had
settled there. As we traveled throughout the village, she was able to
engage villagers and ask them of her friend’s whereabouts. However, good
fortune was on her side as a Thai soldier who took care of us throughout
our visit made every effort to help her. She was reunited with her
friend before our departure.
To witness my Cambodian companion’s extremely ecstatic embrace upon
seeing her friend again, together with the Thai soldier’s act of
generosity, brought a great sense of shared humanity between the people
of both countries, even though they have different nationalities and are
hedged in by a national boundary.
1. Phum Srol is a Khmer word (phum = a village and srol = a pine
2. Sae Prai is a Khmer word (sae = a rice paddy and prai = a forest).
* The name of the author of this article is a pseudonym. The article
was translated by Atchara Simlee.