Ly is a petite woman, sweet and kind. First impressions would not lead you to think that she is someone who has suffered unimaginable loss and pain, that she is a survivor of the Cambodian genocide. But she is, and with her maternal love for her country, strength and will, she has pioneered HOPE’s activities in Cambodia for 20 years.
Ly was in grade 8 when “Year Zero” started. As the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia and marched into Phnom Penh in April 1975, they applied the term “Year Zero” to mark a new era – an era that would purge the country of all its pre-existing culture and traditions and terminate anyone that posed a threat to the revolutionary culture. Alongside millions of Cambodians, Ly was sent to the camps and for four years endured hard labour, starvation, constant fear, and loss of friends and family.
After the Khmer Rouge was forced to retreat and the genocide finally ended, Ly became a nurse and met her husband, Pheap, with whom she has two children. But the population was cut in half and the country utterly destroyed, and as the civil war continued and extreme poverty remained prevalent, Ly became committed to the idea of helping her country recover.
Ly states that she was drawn to the simplicity of HOPE’s structure as a large family extended around the world, working with like-minded people and helping others in need. She joined HOPE in 1995, and since then has overseen the installation of over 1200 clean water wells and helped hundreds of families increase their income and farming productivity with HOPE’s micro-credit program. Without Ly, there would be no HOPE in Cambodia.
To watch a short film about HOPE-JP’s activities in Cambodia, click here.