Sv.T

Sv.T lives in Massachusetts and is a senior mental health practitioner and training director of Harvard’s Cambodian mental health project. She was born on September 12, 1940, in a small town in Battambang Province to a middle-class family. She was a teacher in Cambodia. She is the only child of her parents.

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"An old man told me secretly that if you want to survive, 'you shouldn’t speak up; you have to be quiet like a deaf and dumb person,' I remember all these words the old man told me. Also, he said, 'if you see something, even if it is food that you need, don’t touch it. If you see a fruit from the farm, even if you feel very hungry, don’t pick it.' My family listened to him and we always remembered what he told us… That day, even though I felt very sad and worried about my husband (who was being taken away by the Khmer Rouge), I could not cry or say anything or show my sadness; I would get into trouble I had to stay quiet not say anything. I could cry only at night when no one could hear or see me."

"My grandfather always encouraged us to think about the poor. We had to help poor people. He said not to look at the top too much, but to also look down too in order to see the poor people. We should do the best we can for ourselves and then if we have enough for ourselves, we have to help others in need. It is very important to help someone who needs help. My grandpa encouraged me to be an honest person by showing me this… In our culture, women are not supposed to go to high school or finish primary school. In Battambang Province, my grandfather intervened and broke with our culture in silence by building a primary school and high school only for girls. Then more girls started to go to school and more received a good education."