Remember how I went off on that long tirade about the Killing Fields and the Khmer Rouge, that seemed to happen so long ago in a galaxy far far away? Last week it hit a little closer to home. In fact, it WAS home. Mala is my host mom, and when I told her how I was really upset after going to the museum and the Killing fields, her typical smile quickly turned to a painful grimace. She said: “Awt joll jut Pol Pot. Awt la'a naa!” (I do not like Pol Pot! He was a very bad man!) I know how terrible this event was, but this outburst still startled me a little. Then Mala told me about her past.
Mala was seven years old in 1975, when Pol Pot took power. It was not long before the Khmer Rouge soldiers came for her family. She had a mother, father, two older brothers, and an older sister. She was the youngest. (Like my family). At that time, her entire family was killed by Khmer Rouge soldiers. Every one of them. Somehow Mala was young enough to survive. She was just seven when they killed her entire family. The same age that her daughter, Moriah is now. They took everything from her. She was left as an orphan to fend for herself for the most part. I don't know very many of the details about how they were all killed, or of how she managed to survive until adulthood, but I know she worked here and there and never went to school. She said that for years she would cry and mourn the loss of her family.
She said a lot of things that I did not understand and then she said, “Very Bad.” Then, with a smile, she pointed heavenward, and said, “but then Jesus.” She couldn't think of words to tell me any more than that, but I could feel the power of those 3 words: “...but then Jesus.”
Now she works with orphans and kids in the slum through the World Relief Hope for Cambodia's Children program. All the children love her and she loves them. She is a wonderful mother, and even does the child ministry at the church on Sunday. With just about the worst past you can imagine, Mala has dedicated the rest of her life to giving children hope for the future.