As most of you may know already, despite Agar Aura being located in Malaysia, most of our staff consists of Khmers (Cambodians), either themselves refugees who fled Pol Pot’s infamous “Reign of Terror”, or their children.
Whenever Ahmad and Yusof’s mother is asked to share some stories from Cambodia, you can see the sadness in her eyes. She went through a lot when she fled, on foot, from Cambodia to Malaysia. For a whole month, ‘home’ to her had been a grimy tunnel, where she had to hide to make sure she wasn’t being followed.
Earlier this month, when I was there, I met one of the uncles. I noticed that everyone seemed to be yelling at him, even the kids. I’ve never found these folks to be rude, I thought to myself, I wonder why everyone’s yelling at the poor old chap..?
Turns out, he’s almost completely deaf.
Back in Cambodia, he had once stepped on a land-mine (Pol Pot had a thing for land-mines), which not only made him lose his hearing almost completely…. but he also had some other rather gruesome scars to show (which he’s rather proud of). He rolled up his pants, and I could see that one of his legs was severely bowed and speckled with meaty patches (I took a photo, but would rather not post it here).
He then planted his cigarette between his lips, and rolled up his sleeve. I saw two deep scars on opposite sides of his left forearm. He explained that when the land-mine exploded, it made him hard of hearing, and the shrapnel caused the damage to his leg. One of the pieces went straight through his arm, in one side and out the other. He then did something which was totally freaky: he wiggled his fingers, and I could see his scar tissue rolling up and down. So those were tendons I was looking at, with just a thin layer of scar tissue over them!
You won’t see a happier lot than these folks though. They are so grateful to be here in peaceful Malaysia, and you really truly see them appreciate all the little things in life. Probably most of you found their dwelling from the recent photos I posted (from my recent trip to Pasir Panjang) to be rather humble.
But to them, they’re living the Amer… err, Malaysian dream.
Of our Khmer staff, three pakerjas (workers) are exceptionally skilled at chopping, carving and cleaning. For example, in the time it takes an entire team of 10 hunters to bring down a tree, one of these pakerjas can do the job single-handedly. No chainsaws, no fancy equipment. Just a simple axe.
We decided to send two of these Khmer pakerjas to Borneo…