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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Cambodia (part 17)

We continued on with our tour for a few more minutes, until someone came up and spoke to our tour guide. He quickly left us, and P, an American who lived and worked in Cambodia full-time, told us that fighting had broken out in the city and we needed to leave immediately.

We all piled into the cars and headed to her house. Along the way we noticed the increase in soldiers on the streets. We even passed tanks on street corners, with obviously well-armed men on top.

We got to P's house and were waiting to hear what we would do next, when suddenly fighting broke out just down the block from us. We all had to run into her house to take cover.

We didn't leave again for days.

There were about 40 people in her one house. My team, a few Cambodian girls who had been hired to cook and help out, P, and her young daughters. Her husband was in the States, so she was handling everything by herself.

Now that I'm a mom, I can't imagine the fear she must have had, taking care of 30 college students and her daughters all by herself in the midst of war.

We soon learned that a faction of the government, a man named Hun Sen, had accused Prince Ranariddh of conspiring with the Khmer Rouge, a political group that had killed thousands in genocide. He was taking over and the Prince was out.

Oh, and across the street from us? Large radio/tv tower. For someone in the government. The fighting was so close because someone wanted that tower destroyed.

A few other girls and I tried to entertain P's daughters. They were the sweetest things, and easily distracted by the video camera we showed them. We played games with them, while around us people were panicking, praying or singing.

At one point the fighting came too close. The little girls and my friends R, N, and I were barricaded into a space underneath the stairs for their protection.

Can you imagine having to lock your children away, and not being able to be with them?

While you wondered if your house was about to be blown up with you in it?


Frazzmom said...

I have been waiting on pins and needles for you to continue with this story!

(Not that I don't know you made it through safely- but still...)

Laura said...

What a scary time to be in Cambodia! My parents sponsored Cambodian refugees, so I know a little of the stories...will defnitely be waiting to hear more of this one!