They are 5,250 miles apart, one in Asia, the other in Africa. But in each, huge piles of human skulls bear mute witness to the genocidal horrors of the last quarter of the 20th century when the world should already have learned better from the enormity of the Nazi Holocaust. Once the Chao Ponhea Yat High School, Pol Pot turned it into Security Prison 21 (S-21), where of the nearly 20,000 who passed through its satanic doors only a dozen survived. It was just one of scores of such hellholes where prisoners were beaten, tortured with electric shocks, burned with searing hot metal and water-boarded among other torments.
I followed Khieu Mok, a garment factory worker, and one of the main subjects in the documentary film A River Changes Course, back to her village and as she placed her vote in the ballot box. I asked Khieu what she wanted most from the election -- for herself, her family and her country. She said simply, "All I want is a livable wage."
Empowering girls to access higher education, Lotus Outreach works to replenish educated citizenry 30 years after it was decimated during Khmer Rouge genocide and celebrates its first graduating class of college students in Cambodia, marking a turning point in Cambodia's decades-long tumultuous history.