By Paul Hyde
I agreed to do the Freedom Walk with my dad about a week ahead of time. I decided to go because we were going to do it in honor of my mom and of those survivors who did the walk as well. I was blessed not to be born during the Pol Pot era; and I’m more blessed to be born in the city during a time of progress, and even more blessed to be born to such a wonderful family; Mom, Dad, Anna, and Odom. I am also very blessed to be properly nourished and get a good education. So when I hear about all those horrific stories about this era it makes me very thankful for everything I have. You have probably already heard or read about some of my mom’s stories on my dad’s blog and a lot sound quite difficult to believe. After my Mom was released in ’79 she had to walk 240km back to the capitol when she was just skin and bones probably weighing only 20kg at the age of 16; I’m 13 and weigh about 60kg, so it was extremely difficult for her. Yet she made it and is with us today.
Today the Pol Pot era has been over for some time and young people under 30; mostly in the big cities, hardly believe or don’t believe the stories their parents or grandparents tell them. So kids now have no idea of the unbelievable hardships their parents or grandparents lived through, not even I know a fraction of these hardships. That’s why my dad wanted to do the freedom walk with him, so that I may know a little bit of what my mom went through during one stage of her life. The day before our big walk we left Poi Pet earlier than originally planned to be able to be closer to our starting point. On the first day of our walk we went to the exact spot where my mom was held during the Khmer Rouge, after about 30 minutes of looking around and talking to the local families there my dad and I started our walk. After about 2-3 hours our 20kg backpacks started to get very heavy and our feet and back started to hurt. We have met so many nice people so far on the road and they have been so generous. This is a big answer to prayer.
If I was in Mom’s position 34 years ago, I don’t think I would have made it apart from God’s help. I am so thankful that God helped my Mom to finish the walk.