By Vanndasambath CHHUON. UNICEF Cambodia Voices of Youth 2019.
A young girl clutches her doll while sitting amid the rubble of her bombed-out home
© Hulton Deutsch Collection/CORBIS
It was a silent night, tonight, the sky seems to be very clear. The stars don’t want to hide their brightness. The cool winds bring me to a deep sleep. This is when I fall into a dream. The dream takes me to somewhere I can’t be noticed but always feel sorrowful. I’m standing in the middle of warfare, under the roof of the house. It seems to make me invisible so I have a better chance to survive than the others. I see people run so fast just like a marathon for survival, instead of the prize. Along the way, I saw the youngest one, a girl who I heard the old woman called “Halim”.
I saw Halim with the dirty face, with the red spotted on her grey dress. Like ketchup but blood, her eyes looking towards the tumbling tower of her neighbor’s house. She smiles, unlike the smile, cries unlike the cry. She stays wondering why her most hated dream has come to life. She feels afraid, her body shaking like a little bird in the winter. She tries to hide somewhere narrow and dark, so it will never happen to her again.
I saw her feel so exhausted, hungry and thirsty like the old camel walking through the great Sahara to escape from the hunter, and wishing if she could have a break to drink the water and have some food.
Suddenly, I heard a strange terrible noise falling from the sky, like something very loud and fast land on the roof. Later I realize, as she kneels to the ground without the push from the gravity but from her own shock after seeing her parent’s death in front of her open eyes. She’s wishing this not to be real, they all are fine. They will be with her or at least give her a short opportunity to say goodbye to her loved ones and give one last hug.
But this cannot be undone.
She hugged the doll tightly as hugged her mom, and speaks to it as the only last friend that would stay near her. But she was the one who goes first.
She wishes only to survive, that this nightmare should be ended so she could go back to her simple innocent life with her family, friends, and childhood. But the nightmare was real for her, a dream for me. Is it too much to make these wishes happen for her?
This has woken me up as she whispered into my ear. But this is always remembered in my head, because her story is not so different from 100,000 children that lose their wishes for family, friends and childhood every year.
To you, your sweet means bitter. And when you say you will protect us, you’re pretending to prolong the war. This is not the children’s dream to have, but your dream to power. Remember, these souls will count your actions.
And who do you support when you destroyed your future generations?