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Child Survivor, International Speaker, Social Justice Activist, Author & Khmer Classical Dancer.
Winner of the Oregon Book Award
Finalist for the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize
Finalist for the Pen USA West Literary Award
Hello. Welcome to my website.
I love storytelling, international speaking, and teasing my audiences with my good-natured sense of humor after my talks, especially during Q & A.
I'm glad you're here.
On October 2, 2011, during the Kids of Cambodia Gala Event, Dr. Andrew Clift spoke about his orphanage, The Children's Sanctuary.
Lyn Lea, (lady in the middle), was the former secretary of The Children's Sanctuary. She was so moved by When Broken Glass Floats that she invited me to speak at the Kids of Cambodia Gala Event.
Memorable Visits to the Land Down Under
"Where women glow and men plunder
Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder
You better run, you better take cover
Buying bread from a man in Brussels
He was six foot four and full of muscle
I said, "Do you speak-a my language?"
He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich..."
A Vegemite sandwich? I loved "Down Under" by Men at Work. It was released in November 1981. The same month and year when I set foot on America at 16 as an orphan refugee with a shattered life. So I was nostalgic, remembering how the song made me feel: yearning for Cambodia but relieved to be in America -- when I arrived in Melbourne in 1996 to present our 12-year-follow-up study, a major PTSD conducted on Cambodian survivors at Oregon Health Sciences University.
"Chanrithy, you've got to try Vegemite once." An American expatriate tried to convince me to eat a sandwich, pushing a jar of Vegemite and a loaf of bread toward me. I just smiled and said, "Where can I get a Kangaroo steak?"
He couldn't help me neither did a Cambodian-Australian friend, Thida. She said, "You'll probably have to go buy Kangaroo meat from the Aborigines."
Fifteen years later, I was honored to return to Melbourne in 2011 for a fundraiser, the Kids of Cambodia Gala Event. Thanks to "the Aborigines", Kangaroo steak is widely sold at Australian grocery stores. So, Thida's husband and I grilled lots of Kangaroo steak, served with steamed rice and salsa sauce, made of green round eggplants, fresh chilies, garlic, herbs and lime juice, Cambodian style. So I was completely cured.
I was grateful for my Aussie "Mum", Lyn, and Aussie "Dad" Richard. Never before has a host asked me if she could iron my outfit and dance costume before my talk and dance performance, but Lyn did. Richard was a gracious chef who cooked me breakfast and us dinner, while I stayed in their lovely home for a few days. I was blessed.
I performed "The Blessing Dance" before speaking on When Broken Glass Floats. This is a blessing gesture during which I tossed rose petals toward the audience. Sometimes I wish I have the power to bless.
For the Khmer Children
Who Need Our Love & Support
This documentary footage was filmed by Justin Olmstead at BMW Edge, Federation Square in Melbourne Australia on October 2, 2011. It features presentations by Dr. Andrew Clift, President of The Children's Sanctuary, and Chanrithy Him at the fundraising event called the Kids of Cambodia Gala Event.
If you would like to support orphans and abandoned children in Cambodia, please contact Dr. Andrew Clift at www.thechildrenssanctuary.com. Thank you.
Selected Photos for this Gallery