It was a silent night, tonight.

By Vanndasambath CHHUON. UNICEF Cambodia Voices of Youth 2019.

© 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 of survival than the others. I see people run so fast just like a marathon, but for survival, not a prize. Along the way, I saw the youngest one, a girl who I heard the old woman call “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 speak to it as the only last friend that would stay near her and wish him not to go away like anyone.

But she was the one who goes first.

I saw her walking down to the street just five to six steps and get exploit into the air like hopping game but it in mine-land and been mangled her legs a meter apart. She was in bleeding, between life and death. Wishing for the only last fate to survive, and this nightmare should be ended so she could go back to her simple innocent life to have family, friends, and childhood.

But the wake-up dream will never wake again, and the nightmare was real, which only left her in the last breath with her faded voice to the nightmare author that “Is it too much to make these wishes happen for her?”

This has woken me up. Always remember, her story is not different from the other 170,000 children that lost their wishes last decade (UNICEF, 2019). Too many suffered grave violations from airstrikes, explosives, landmines. And it’s still happening. Remember, these souls will count your actions of the ‘deadly decade for children in conflict’.

And who do you support when you destroyed your future generations?

UNICEF Report:



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