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Author Undertakes Battambang School Rehabilitation

Ung Kilong, the 50-year-old author of “The Golden Leaf”.
Ung Kilong, the 50-year-old author of “The Golden Leaf”.

The author of a Khmer Rouge memoir who now lives in the US is raising funds to help education in Cambodia.

Ung Kilong, the 50-year-old author of “The Golden Leaf,” said he hopes better education will promote free thinking and a break from the kind of political ideology that led to the disaster of the Khmer Rouge.

“Young people joined the Khmer Rouge because they lacked understanding,” he said. “With the schooling in place they will have more knowledge.”

Ung Kilong is working with a group of associates to build a primary school in Thmor Kol district, Battambang province, where students are taught by underpaid teachers in a dilapidated school and without proper uniforms.

Ung Kilong is himself originally from Battambang, but he fled to the US with his sister following the Khmer Rouge and the loss of their parents and other siblings.

“I was lucky to come here, so I want to help Cambodia, so that in the future, Cambodian children can raise up the face of the country,” Ung Kilong told VOA Khmer from Portland, Oregon, where he was fundraising for the school project.

Cambodia’s ambassador to the US, Hem Heng, who attended the fundraising ceremony, urged other Cambodians to do more to help education, health and social issues.

“As Cambodians, no matter where we go and no matter what citizenship we hold, our blood is still Khmer,” he said. “Therefore, we always think of our country.