Chansocheata Poum 

Dear Engin,

This is Socheata. It has been a long time. I hope all is well with you and your community in KW. I am writing from Wellington, New Zealand where I am residing at the moment for my master degree. I am writing this with a heart that is heavy and sadden with the tragedy that happened in Christchurch, New Zealand. It has been exactly a week from when that happened. You might have read it from the news about the attack that happened on a Friday afternoon during the worship time at mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. Since then, I have been thinking of you and other Muslim brothers and sisters I have met in KW. I hope peace will be upon all of you. 

I remember when I just met you, you invited me to your community and share my story. Then for a while later you have said something that stuck with me. It was something you said about believing I would go places and meeting important people then you went on listed a few. I was flattered at the time and I thought you have thought so high of me. Until recently, I have met many top leaders in Cambodia as I had been awarded with the scholarship. The highlight of this is recently, in New Zealand, I got to meet the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern whom I admire so much (attached photos). I always remember you whenever I sit at those meetings and shake those hands. I am starting to think your words might have come true and you actually did not just say that to make me feel good at that time. I hope the next time we met, I will have an album of “Important people and Me” to go through with you.  

Throughout the years of many encountering and interaction, I have developed this mental image about Muslims. Through my interaction with the Muslims friends and professors at my university, I’ve known them as selfless and hardworking. Through the hospitality I received from Muslim community in KW, I have known them as kind and welcoming. Through the story that I have with you, I have known them as those who see the best in people and the world. This image will never change for me. I think a way to stop these massacres from happening is to have everyone developed this similar image mentally through having meaningful interaction to break the stereotype. Which I am privilege to have developed mine through meeting, working and sharing stories with you and many other Muslims. 

This attacks is so closed to home and the randomness of it is a major parameter that got me to react and contemplate on this tragedy particularly different this time. I do not know how this might have affected you and many of Muslims around the world. However, I could sympathize and I condemn the system or belief that spread fear, division, hatred and extremism. I don’t know how this message might have helped your community through this time but I hope it at least let you know that I stand with you. I pray that you and your community will still stand strong through this time.

Please send my warmest greeting to the Muslim community in KW. Warmest regards,Socheata