BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

16 October 2014

BBC Homepage
Wales home

Contact Us

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions

Never Give Up Hope

By Sokphal Din
September 2004,
A digital story from Who Do You Think You Are?

"'Never give up hope and follow your instincts', my mother always said to me. Even in the last days of her life she still hoped that she will meet her husband again.

My real father died when I was very young. Many years later my mother got married to my stepfather, but I thought of him as father.

I grew up in Phnom Penh wanting to be a doctor, but in 1975 that was all taken away from me, when we were forced out of our house and away from our home at gunpoint. 2 or 3 months later my father was separated from us. Pol Pot soldier promised that my father would be brought back to us after he had been brainwashed and we would all go home. We all believed that. On his last night my father gave me his ring and necklace and told me to take care of my mother, brothers and sister... That was the last time I saw his face.

Several months later they moved us again, telling we were going home, but they lied and took us to the jungle. We lived there for four years without any contact from the outside world.

Conditions were so terrible; my grandmother died of starvation, my brother died of malaria and many others died or were killed.

The Vietnamese invaded Cambodia and we escaped out of the jungle. We went back to Phnom Penh, but nothing there, all family disappeared, nothing left. We didn't stay.

Life didn't get any better in Cambodia under Vietnamese rule. In 1983, we decided to escape for a better future and we hope to find my father. We walked all night through mine fields, swim across river and heavy rain and all the time very frightened. My mother was in so much pain, she couldn't go on anymore. She told me to carry on without her, but I wouldn't go. I wasn't going to lose my mother as well.

We arrived at refugee camp on Thai border. The camp was hard, but at least we had freedom from Pol Pot and the Vietnamese.

Through the red cross we came to England in 1987 to set up home for the first time for 12 years. That was such a happy day.

Even though my childhood was destroyed, and my future totally different, all my experiences have made me a stronger person. My mother taught me to appreciate life. I carry on her hope and pray that one day I will find my father again and be able to look after him in return for what he did for me.

Sokphal Din

Please tell us a little about yourself.
I came from Cambodia in 1987. I now live in Basingstoke and work in a printing company.

What's your story about?
It's about my life in the killing fields under Pol Pot Communist regime. I lost so many relatives during that time. But I have such sad memories when I lost my father to that regime. So many bad things happened which I remember very well but not enough time to tell.

I wanted to tell this story as I felt that my mother loved my father very much. She lost him and still didn't know if he has been killed or alive. To see my mother suffering for many years wondering is she'll meet her husband again. I want to tell people what we all had been through.

What did you find the most rewarding aspect about the workshop?
I enjoyed myself very much. It was very good to meet other people and hear their stories. It gave me some thought about what I want to do next - perhaps make a longer film for myself to show some of the family who are still alive and to show to my niece when she grows up.

How has this workshop affected the way you look upon your family history?
I feel very content and overjoyed. I believe when my sister and brother see this film, it will make them remember what we had been through. It will also to put my family closer together and stronger."

Your comments

"I appreciate your story a lot. Last November I went on a missions trip to Cambodia and visited one of the Killing Fields. I heard other stories from survivors like you." Abigail Priest from Georgia, Jun 2008.

"To read and watch your story made my heart skip a beat. It was the most amazing and emotional story. I hope you will write your story more so people can read." Callie Nicholas, Sept 2007.

Latest videos here!

We've created a new site to watch our collection of your short films and videos in Flash. Videos will be still be available here in Real Media. Click here to visit the new site.

Search your video

Latest videos

Sian Eirian Rees Davies
New videos

Short films from Wales made by you.

An Indian doll
Video Nation Wales

Your views on camera and online.

Cipolwg ar Gymru

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy