Chlong Reoun (Sarin’s Mother)

Posted on May 4, 2017

Chlong Reoun will be celebrating her 84th birthday this year!

Sarin and his mother, Reoun

Chlong Reuon married her husband, Chea Reth sometime in the 1960s and the couple  had nine children. The family lived in the countryside and worked as rice farmers, fished and sold vegetables in the market.  Although Sarin’s mother never went to school, she had skills in budgeting and managing money for the family. Reth was educated and served as a  soldier in the Non Lol government party until the Khmer Rouge  regime.

The hardships the family endured during this time are hard to imagine. When asked to recall some happy times with his mother when he was young, Sarin replied there were “None because of the war. There were just bombs and screaming and separation from family.’’ Sadly, Sarin’s father and 3 of his siblings were killed in the war.

In 1981 the remaining family members escaped to the Pre Chin Bori refugee camp in Thailand. Sarin was 6 years old at the time. Here they stayed at a pagoda. At age 9, Sarin was one of 160 boys at the refugee camp, to be selected and moved to an orphanage established by a Japanese NGO. It was there that he received an education and learned English. During that time, he saw his family every week and although it was hard to be separated, his mother knew that he was getting the food, education and opportunities that she could not provide.

Reoun chose not to remarry, because in the Cambodian culture, second husbands often do not take good care of children from a previous marriage. Instead, she focused on raising her children alone to ensure they would not be abused or neglected.

Later, she became a Buddhist nun, living in the monastery, cleaning and cooking for the monks and learning about Buddha. This quiet life allows her to refresh her spirit, try to forget past hard times and focus on heaven. Now that she is getting older, she spends much of her time at her daughter’s house, but continues to support the monks, buying food and books for them.

Roeun with Sarin and his family and Danny

Reoun is very proud of Sarin, her only son, and all that he has accomplished. In Cambodia, one’s station in life is often linked to social connections and the wealth of the family. Because they had neither, she never expected that he would be so successful on his own and be an integral part of a school that would improve an entire community and change the futures of poor village children. Reoun is happy to see him married with two beautiful daughters. She is proud of all her grandchildren and pushes them to continue their education and contribute to the community.

The best advice his mother gave him, says Sarin, is to help your siblings and do good things for society.

Join us in wishing Reoun a Happy Mother’s Day!

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