It all started in 2012 ...
I heard of the 2013 Boeung Kak land evictions in Phnom Penh and the unstable possibilities of Cambodia's future. I asked my mother if I would be able to go to Cambodia to create documentary with my non-existent filming experience; I reached out to all of my contacts in Cambodia, took off from both of jobs and flew to Cambodia or two weeks.
I experienced and saw many things during these two weeks. I traveled into so many villages; villages that I don't remember where or how to get there, but through bumpy non-existent roads. I can't describe how bumpy the roads were, and I never thought/knew the toll it was able to do to a body just from traveling on a bumpy road. I was also sick for a period of time from possibly a combination of food poisoning, heat exhaustion and exhaustion all at the same time, but I kept going.
There are many stories that stuck with me until today but there were many things that I saw that wasn't such sadness and improvements needed, but I saw many beautiful things as well.
The creation of "Save Cambodia"
During my plane ride back home to the United States, my mind was filled with thoughts about the issues in Cambodia and how was I able to help Cambodia from disappearing and turning into another nation. Primarily, I chose Cambodia not because I am Cambodian, but I knew a rich, genuine cultured country having the potential to disappear. I came to the realization the unity between the variety of non-profits, businesses, governmental institutions including a platform for international voices needed help to be strengthen (I am not sure what you are attempting to say here). This is a repetitive concern about the dynamics between people and existing institutions. I did not want to develop something that would diminish or threaten those who have been working hard for years; I wanted to develop something that would enhance the missions for those working daily to meet their specific missions by helping to pave a path for all parties to strengthen and sustain their work. I knew Cambodia had the potential to be an inspiration to others around the world because of the rich history, adversity, and triumphs over suffering. The main disconnect was that Cambodians didn't recognize their own value and beauty as a group or a nation. Without that realization, then all of the efforts that others have tirelessly worked towards, are in jeopardy of disappearing too. Therefore, an organization striving to help Cambodian children will no longer be seen as a necessity if the country is dissolved.
The issues with the word "save" Cambodia
"No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We must walk the path." Buddha
This is something one of the most common questions I receive, why "Save" Cambodia. Do you plan on "saving" Cambodia? The answer is: No, I don't plan to "save" Cambodia.
We have developed an organization with it's sole purpose to aid in providing Cambodians with the needed tools to gain self-efficacy towards cultural preservation and sustainability through engagement with individuals and global partnerships. We are initiating a new way for the institutions to work cohesively together in a neutral, efficient, and effective best way possible towards a common goal while keeping Cambodia sustainable.
We want to inspire and improve the mindset of others that no one has the ability to empower individuals other than themselves. According to Merriam-Webster, the word "save" is to keep safe; to stop from dying or being hurt, damaged or lost. Its up to the individual what they find important to them. With this understanding, the word "save" in Save Cambodia promotes that understanding.
My thoughts/feelings on current Cambodia
I am aware there is much division, anger, resentment, sadness, embarrassment and more amongst the different sides. Also, I see why and how it has escalated to the point where we are today. But the one thing I understand from all of this is that everyone truly believes that what they are doing is the best option. I cannot speak for everyone because everyone has their own reason(s) for the choices they make however, sometimes it may not make sense to others. Perhaps we are not able to comprehend their decisions because we have not lived through their experiences. From understanding this reality and drawing from my own life experiences, it has helped me become more empathetic and open-minded. I always give a clean slate to all those I meet to allow me to fully absorb a person's wants, needs, fears and desires.
I truly believe that Save Cambodia is what the nation and people need because our messages and initiatives are what will bring unity, sustainability and preservation to Cambodia.