Dong Sakona, 20, works at a rubber plantation in Thailand, where he spends his days freezing the rubber in bunches. He arrived there three months ago through a worker agency because poverty forced him to move from his home to support his family. He hoped that he could earn enough money to build a house and increase his standard of living.
Employees at Sakona’s plantation have three work shifts to choose from, which are either from 7am to 3pm, 3pm to 11pm or 11pm to 7am. Sakona said that he takes the earliest shift. He lives with six other Cambodians in a rented room that has a bedroom, a bathroom and a kitchen.
“The Thai boss is very kind to the Khmer workers,” said Sakona. “He sometimes likes Cambodians more than his compatriots.”
Sakona also said that other Thai people have mostly been kind to him. “If Thai people see us holding heavy luggage while we travel on buses or taxis, they will help us reduce the weight of the load.”
“During those days, I did not see or hear anything about the issue in my area. My senior told me that he had not even seen Thais talking about Preah Vihear.”
However, he said that it was difficult to communicate with the Thais when he first arrived due to the language barrier. But he said that the main problem he faced was homesickness from his abrupt switch from Cambodia to Thailand.
“I really miss my home. Sometimes I cry when I see the rainy landscape, and I want to come home immediately.”
However, Sakona and his colleagues are able to prepare their own Khmer food, with each each worker taking turns to prepare meals. Vegetables and meat is available for people on the plantation once a week because the firm is so far from market, so they have to buy what they need for the entire week.
The Khmer workers with the biggest problems are the illegal workers who must hide from the police. If they are caught, they will be sent to jail.
“Those who want to work abroad, they should learn the host country’s language, and they should immigrate legally.”