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How They Walked

April 5, 2013

If I were an artist I would draw you a picture to depict what the walk that my wife, Noit, made was like, but try to imagine  the conditions that they faced when walking home. . .

  • Swollen heads from malnutrition
  • Emaciated bodies
  • 16 year old Noit weighing 20 kilos (45 pounds)
  • Her mother at 25 kilos (52 pounds); She died soon after the walk
  • Walking slowly; faces to the ground
  • Only walking 1-3 kilometers possible in an entire day with lack of strength
  • No water; Noit would drink muddy water from any source like buffalo wallows
  • Temperatures between 95 and 110 degrees (32-43 Celsius) during April 1979
  • Khmer Rouge ambushing those walking
  • Vietnamese shooting over the heads of those walking with machine guns and artillery at the hiding Khmer Rouge forces
  • Fear in every step
  • Barefooted
  • Everyone who had clothes only wore black, which was the only color the Khmer Rouge allowed
  • Dead bodies decomposing along the road; they never made it home
  • Walkers attack suspecting Khmer Rouge soldiers trying to hide in the population; all suspected Khmer Rouge are hacked to death until it is impossible to recognize the corpse was a person
  • Landmines cover every road side
  • Sleeping on the dirt road, if you step off you might get killed
  • Bushes with no leaves, because that is all the people have to eat
  • Quiet for hours on end, isolation while walking
  • The smell of decomposing bodies everywhere
  • Hopeless
  • Every town and village destroyed, the Khmer Rouge literally destroyed every population center
  • Bridges blown out or burning from Khmer Rouge ambushes to stop the advancing Vietnamese and Cambodian army
  • Most never made it home, but just stayed somewhere along the road, making a random home for themselves among people they do not know.  Hoping, just maybe, one of their dozens of relatives, siblings or family members made it out alive.  Even after thirty years reunions are rare.

Noit walked 150 kilometers from northern Pursat to Kompong Chhang town.  In her condition, it took her two months.  There, she traded a cow that she found for a ride to Phnom Penh for the last 90 km thinking they would all die before they made it home.  A military truck took her and dumped her on the edge of the city.  Trees were growing in the Phnom Penh boulevards.  Few buildings had roofs.  Every door was gone.  Windows gone.  Even electrical wiring was ripped out of buildings. . . just to make the destruction complete. When she arrived at her home, it was occupied by another family who made it back before her.  Noit, her mother and sister took another empty home.  They still had no food to eat. Noit’s mother would soon die; she never recovered from the Khmer Rouge and the long walk home. They walked to the Mekong River to drink water and they hoped to see their family come back.  They never did.  Their bodies are scattered among the rice fields of Pursat Province, Cambodia; A long, long walk away.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 5, 2013 3:43 am

    There are no words….. These kind of things are unimaginable, but we NEED to hear about them. Thank you Steve and Paul.

  2. April 5, 2013 4:53 am

    While I don’t “like” to read this, I am glad to. With your journey you are educating … People are capable of such creativity … Positive and negative … And are capable of such great strength … Like Your wife’s and those like her. Only a Good God could heal such.

  3. April 5, 2013 6:16 am

    Very sobering, Steve. Although difficult to read, your list gives us perspective and helps us to understand the kind of challenges that Noit and other survivors faced. Thanks for sharing your journey of remembrance with us.

  4. Lyn permalink
    April 5, 2013 7:52 am

    By God’s grace Noit survived that horror, and is an incredible woman of God.

  5. Bryan Furr permalink
    April 5, 2013 9:08 am

    Thank you for your words. May God’s grace and peace accompany you and Paul as you walk this trail shinning the light of Christ in a dark world. I pray more people you encounter will be filled with interest in knowing more about the Saviour. Keep on planting seeds!

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