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Sen Mai

Retired farmer and mother 61 years old

"I THINK life now is very dif-ferent from when I was a child. When I grew up

I had to live under the control of my parents, and could not go to school much because

they needed my help. I grew up in Kandal province, cultivating rice, corn and tobacco.

"I worked for my parents from a very early age; I can't remember how old I was

when I started. It was a hard life; we were working by six in the morning. There

was no real time for lessons - if I count the years I spent at school, it was probably

only about five. My heart led me towards school, but when I saw my parents were in

difficulty, I knew I should help them in the fields. When I think of my childhood,

I think of hardship - for all of us.

"I have happy memories of Khmer New Year and Pchum Ben when I was a child -

then we stopped work and were together with our families, playing traditional games

and eating nice food.

"I think today life is easier for the young. Now they have more freedom and

can go to school, they do not have to support their parents so much. I think it's

because society is getting better.

"Of course, there are still many problems, like street crimes, robberies, and

so on. And there is so much kidnapping. In my generation, people did not see this

at all, everyone could go everywhere safely. But now we live with that fear.

"Cambodia would be a very good place to live if these crimes were wiped out.

"As for the future, I cannot dare to say what I feel. For my children, I want

them to be peaceful and to live in peace. But I cannot read the future.

"You know, in my day, people would respect the older generation more. I remember

seeing small children bow their heads when they passed by an older person. But now,

they only give respect if they have come from a good family and are well brought


"I cannot say what has been the great achievement of Cambodia over the last

century, but I can say that I think King Sihanouk is the person of the millennium!"



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