Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodians, come home and help the Kingdom prosper




Cambodians, come home and help the Kingdom prosper

Cambodians, come home and help the Kingdom prosper

Regarding the Post Weekend article titled A Return to the Roots: Diaspora Rebuild (October 10): The article begins with an introduction of a new documentary by Canadian-Cambodian graffiti artist Fonki Yav, who encourages the Cambodian diaspora to come back to the motherland and contribute to the revival of the nation. The article provokes the question: Do Cambodian overseas owe a duty to their homeland?

My answer is YES. Many in the diaspora long to reconnect with their country and give back by working or volunteering here. However, they may not have the means to for personal or professional reasons.

Still, they contribute towards the development of Cambodia in other ways; through academic/professional work related to our country, promoting and teaching Khmer culture and the language to the next generation, or helping Cambodians in their local communities through social and economic issues. Their efforts are just as important and worthwhile.

Yet, if we ever come across the chance to live here, whether for personal or professional reasons, short term or permanently, we should seize it. It is an extraordinary opportunity for us to make a direct impact on the renewal of our nation.

What we get in return is an unparalleled experience to fully immerse ourselves in our homeland – something we will never be able to do anywhere else. Even if it’s just to visit, it is a first step to reconnect the roots that were abruptly torn away from us long ago.

If we are fortunate enough to live here, we should not only consider it as a duty to give back to our homeland, but a privilege. It is a privilege to wake up every day in this country to experience everything it has to offer. It is a privilege to witness the country’s rapidly changing social and economic development and play some small part in the story of our country’s transformation.

The eagerness to contribute is often driven by the sense of moral obligation many in the diaspora feel. Perhaps it is because of the guilt we carry as survivors or inheriting that guilt as direct descendants of the survivors.

Through our own experience or through parents and elders, we are often reminded of our tragic history and the fluke of circumstances that allowed us to survive and prosper in a new land. Luck and hard work gave us access to quality educational and professional opportunities our peers lacked at home.

Future diaspora generations may not feel this moral obligation as strongly as they will be further removed from the illness that struck our nation. Hopefully with the passage of time there will more progress in Cambodia and the needs won’t be so great.

For this generation, survivors and direct descendants, driven by that moral obligation, there is an immediate and unique role we can play.

There is a need for the distinctive skills and talents we have to offer, but with that comes rewarding opportunities, personally and professionally.

We should absolutely answer that call to action to come back and contribute to the extent that we can, but we should not be expected to bear that entire burden, nor somehow assume that it is ours alone to bear.

It is the duty of all Cambodians to positively contribute in any way we can to strengthen our nation’s social and economic development, to rebuild our identity, trust and camaraderie amongst each other.

In doing so, we can find a meaningful sense of purpose in helping to write a newer and brighter narrative for our country and her people. As we help our nation heal, we too also heal.

Whatever contribution we can make towards our homeland, big or small, in country or elsewhere can make a difference.

But nowhere is that difference more palpable than being able to do it here. Our individual contributions alone may not seem to make a difference, but with our brothers and sisters, overseas or in country, all Khmer people can collectively help turn the page towards a more positive, prosperous chapter for Cambodia.

Mittpheap (Mitty) Steele is a blogger at www.banyanblog.com and is vice president of Anvaya.

MOST VIEWED

  • First Khmer woman to pass out of West Point

    The life of a soldier certainly isn’t for everyone. The training is gruelling, the hours long and there’s no room for excuses. On top of that, soldiers must be ready to respond to sudden threats at a moment’s notice. Just ask Sithyka

  • Tourists urged not to skip trip

    The Ministry of Tourism has called on international tourists not to cancel trips to Cambodia, but urged them to adhere to several dos and don’ts when arriving in the Kingdom during the Covid-19 pandemic. The ministry released an eight-point instruction manual on Wednesday published

  • The taxman cometh – Cambodia’s capital gains tax casts the net on individual taxpayers

    In a country where only limited personal income tax existed, the new taxation law beginning January 1, 2021, will make taxpayers out of Cambodians, whether they are ready for it or not About two years ago, a little known amendment was made to Article 7 of the Law

  • Cambodian-American gets Star Trek treatment

    Kevin Ung, a Cambodian-American whose family escaped genocide during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror, was recently selected from thousands of applicants to participate in the Television Academy Foundation’s inaugural 2020 Star Trek Command Training Programme, a course intended to give hands-on filmmaking experience

  • Cambodia seeks to be transport hub

    Cambodia is working on several fronts to modernise its transport infrastructure and services, concentrating on opening new international gates to relieve and balance traffic congestion at its borders, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said on Thursday. This is part of the Kingdom’

  • Deminers unearth ancient lion statue

    Cambodia Mine Action Centre (CMAC) director-general Heng Ratana told The Post on Tuesday that a statue of a lion was found by mine clearance experts while they were digging for a development project. It was sent to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts last