We met a young Cambodian man who had come to the US as a child. Recently, as an adult, the US deported him to Cambodia. His knowledge of the written and spoken Cambodian language and culture was very limited. His deportation left a partner and a child in the United States. The young man was very grateful for the services of KVAO: they greeted him when he arrived and helped him find a place to stay and obtain job training. He can never return legally to the US, so to maintain contact, his family will have to visit him in Cambodia.
KVAO is a non-governmental humanitarian organization that defines its vision as “a Cambodia where all Cambodian deportees are successfully integrated and are stable, productive, and independent members of society.” It is a bewildering experience for deportees to be sent back to a homeland they have never really known, some having fled as infants with their families to escape the ravages of the Khmer Rouge. From 1975 to 1994, 150,000 Cambodian refugees came to the United States. KVAO helps the deportees with orientation to the culture, getting legal documents, and access to job training. Many end up teaching English.
Here in the US, we experience the effects of our harsh immigration policies on our Hispanic neighbors, so it was particularly disturbing to also find those effects extending all the way to Cambodia. We were glad to know that KVAO alleviates some of the trauma associated with deportation.
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