Vicheara Houn was born in Cambodia and now lives in the U.S. She is the author of Bamboo Promise: Prison Without Walls.
I interviewed her for Journey To Success Radio. Another former Cambodian and Napoleon Hill Foundation Certified Instructor, Tim Chhm joined me as the co-host for the interview.
Vicheara Houn was born in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in the peaceful days before the Khmer Rouge communist rebels engulfed this small Southeast Asian nation in four years of death and destruction.
As the only child of a wealthy and politically prominent father, her young life was one of great contrasts. She went to University of Phnom Penh to study pharmacy and met her husband there.
Their forbidden romance caused much conflict but eventually they prevailed and married in Janurary,1975 , four months before the Khmer Rouge took over and their lives turned upside down.
All the residents of Phnom Penh, including Vicheara Houn's entire family, were forced out of their homes and expelled from the city in a mass exodus by the Khmer Rouge rebels.
One by one, every member of Vicheara Houn's family starved to death. Her young husband was murdered.
Emaciated and alone, she managed to survive until 1979 when the Khmer Rouge was defeated by the Vietnamese and the survivors were liberated. Vicheara returned to her paternal home.
She finished her pharmacy degree and made a daring escape to a refugee camp in Thailand. There she met the man who would become her second husband and they made their way to the US in 1984, where they had two children, a boy and a girl.
She received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry. She later divorced and met her current husband in Portland , OR.
Later, Vicheara Houn moved to Arizona where she finished writing her first book, Bamboo Promise, to share her amazing story of survival with the world.
Many of you might remember the war in Vietnam which occurred between 1962 and 1975. But, what many people don't realize is that another war raged at the same time ...right next door in Cambodia. Communist rebels influenced by Mao Tse Tung, wanted to take control of the country, whereas Ho Chi Minh, the North Vietnamese leader wanted to take control of Cambodia.
The Vietnamese civil war led to the Cambodian Genocide. More than 3 million people perished during this killing field between 1975 and 79. There were put into labor camps much like Auschwitz. they were tortured, they were worked to death, they were starved, they were executed...... they were exterminated.
The educated people were especially targeted. Through propaganda. anyone who was not a "farmer" was named the enemy. They were the ones to blame for everything that was wrong in the world. It came to the point where merely wearing glasses was a crime punishable by death.
My father was a prominent member of the national government. He was asked to negotiate with a troupe of Khmer Rouge (Khmer Communist) leaders, invited them to dinner at our house. He was excited when the dinner was over, "NOTHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN AS LONG AS I LIVE, " assured my father. He didn't know he was lied to. The Genocide was at the door.
I can't describe the pain and heartbreak I lived through watching my very proud father sacrifice for me always clinging to the hope we would return home soon and AMERICA WOULD RESCUE US. And him finally succumbing to starvation and malaria or what it felt as I held his frail body in my arms as he took his last breath.
America never came. --- No one did!
The memory of seeing my husband walking by, and then disappearing from my sight forever, has been a shock remaining until now. At least I was prepared for his loss, though he was not.I felt his fear, his pain. The Khmer Rouge tortured him to death. I felt his voice screaming for help in the darkness. I felt he was thinking of me; how to say Good Bye, and how it felt to die.
America never came. ----No one did!
Many people didn't know Americans dropped 100,000 tons of bombs on the Ho Chi Minh trail that ran along Laos, Cambodia and South Vietnam. This trail was used by North Vietnamese as a route for weapon to fight with America. The number of dropped bombs is equal 5 times of bombs they dropped in Hiroshima's.
"President Nixon and Mr. Kissinger unleashed 100,000 tons of bombs, the equivalent of 5 Hiroshima. The bombing was their personal decision; they illegally and secretly, they bombed Cambodia, a neutral country, back to the Stone Age." - By John Pilger
America never came. ----No one did!
By reading my book, you walk to a journey, you see through my eyes, what else that western people really don't know, and what happened when Americans left Cambodia to the hand of the Khmer Rouge regime...Fright, despair, agony, famine, frustration, million teardrops had exceeded the reality. These are the silent death sickness that never leaves Khmer victims of the genocide.