'My daughter, I'm still alive'
- Boon Auan Khamsook is originally from a remote village in the north-west of Cambodia. In 1974, she went across to the Thai border to sell charcoal. When the Khmer Rouge sealed the border she was trapped on the Thai side and unable to return home. It was the last time she ever saw her family. This is Boon Auan today and her Thai husband, Malee Khamsook, outside their home in Si Saket province, Thailand.CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Nic Dunlop
- Last year, Boon Auan received a call from an unknown number. "I picked up the phone and the first words I heard were, ‘My daughter, I’m still alive!' I was stunned. I could remember my mother’s voice, I felt so happy and so grateful." After years of separation, civil war, bombing and occupation, Boon Auan had located her family in Cambodia.CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Nic Dunlop
- A sister joins them. Then a brother. Within minutes, there are a handful of relatives, young and old, all pouring water over the elderly woman. The ceremony is called Srong Peah. It is a cleansing ceremony for washing away sins of those who perform it, seeking forgiveness for sins of the past and for wishing the elders good health.CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Nic Dunlop
- Reflecting over their separate lives, Boon Auan’s sense of dislocation is palpable. Her family endured the horrors of the Khmer Rouge and years of conflict. While the reunion can never bridge the gap of experience, none of it matters to the family. They’re just relieved she is well and happy.CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Nic Dunlop