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The young clueless child thought Phnom Penh was like the heart of her life, she lived with her lovely family in a large house on the upper floors of their home with a housekeeper. Back then, Loung’s life was peaceful and filled with love and support. She had the chance to learn and go to school with her siblings. But the silence had been disrupted with soldiers marching into their town. After knowing it wasn’t a celebration, Pa determines the soldier’s stories are lies. Loung’s life was about to be changed forever. Loung had to learn how to fit in not living in luxury life she used to live in, the challenge was big and difficult. She had to sleep on the ground, use bathrooms outdoors, live in a room filled with many other people, and get used to the changes in attitude her siblings and her parents suddenly have. Food was scarce although the family worked as hard as the could in the field as starvation grew. The difficulty stood out stronger day by day when Keav became ill and died. Loung was left with sadness as her thoughts raced the next several days hoping Keav would be in a safe place in the afterlife. Loung became stronger by understanding the sudden turning points in her life. She grew stronger every day facing reality.
Loung was a smart and brave child. She became a survivor as her life changed at a turning point faced with extremely difficult challenges for a young girl like her. At the age of 24, my uncle was trained to become a Chinese soldier. The training camp was rough and harsh for him. He and others woke up before the sun was up, they were sent to nearby hills every day twice for drills. My uncle carried heavy things on his back at drills. At first, the pain was unbearable. It felt like there was a knife was stabbing his back every step he took, his heartbeat jumped faster every minute, and he felt like giving up every second when lost in his own thoughts. But one thing that buried deep in his memory was the courage he had. Without courage and believing in himself, he would have long ago given up. His people needed him, he remembered, from the permanent scar that was there standing strong and proud. He needed to learn how to help them. He needed to overcome the pain and stressful situations that were difficult for him. He never gave up. Loung never gave up too. She knew she needed to make it, giving up was not an option, her family would be proud of her if they knew she made it. Without her courage, she wouldn’t have made it. Being trained like a soldier is extremely challenging for a young girl like her.
From my own experience in real life, my uncle had experienced the same thing Loung had felt. Many people in the training camp my uncle attended were exceptional in their field. The students had high scores in their entrance exams. During rescue missions, the members were left starving and in wintery cold without shelter — they felt angered by this. When Loung was forced to be trained like a soldier, she was only 5 years old. If people like us went into these camps at her age, we might be paralyzed after 4 or 5 hours. Loung’s bravery and her personality had the qualities of being a survivor. Without faith and hope, Loung would not have made it and become a survivor. She had the hope of escaping, the spirit of a lion, and the faith that she will make it all the way to the end. She was stronger than others by not letting fear take control of her. She never let go of her bravery. Challenges she experienced like fitting in, starvation, being mistreated, and being forced to leave her mother and her siblings helped her grew strong. A normal 5-year-old girl who had never experienced these challenges would have never make it to as far as being a survivor. The challenges and hardships like these are difficult times. But it’s the challenges that made her reply with bravery, and it’s the challenges that trained her to have the qualities of becoming a survivor.