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First They Killed My Father This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

     "An eloquent and powerful narrative ... This is an important story that will have a dramatic impact on today's readers and inform generations to come," said Dith Pran [whose story was told in "The Killing Fields"] of this gripping true story. Ung's incredible first-person narrative makes the reader feel as if they are living her life.

Loung was a five-year-old girl in a loving, middle-class family in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, when the communist Khmer Rouge took over her country. You feel Loung's fear and confusion as soldiers force her family and others from their city. You are there with her as her family struggles to stay alive and together as the Khmer Rouge takes over.

Forced to live in small villages, Loung must not speak of her past because her father worked in the old government and they could all be killed if the soldiers discover this. As those around them die of disease and starvation, her family clings to each other for support, but is slowly torn apart. The older boys are sent to a labor camp, the oldest girl is sent away and dies. Loung's father is taken away, never to return. Eventually, her mother sends three of the remaining four children away because she can no longer support them.

Loung and her sister Chou travel to a girls' work camp where they tell the leader they are orphans. Despite her young age, Loung is sent to another camp to become a soldier. While there, she occasionally is allowed to visit Chou or her mother. On one visit, Loung discovers her mother and younger sister have been killed.

First They Killed My Father is a powerful, moving story. I also learned about the Cambodian civil war and the effect war has on families.

Today, Luong is an advocate for the Campaign for a Landmine-Free World and travels the world speaking about landmines and her experiences in Cambodia. "As I tell people about genocide, I get the opportunity to redeem myself ... It's empowering; it feels right. The more I tell people, the less the nightmares haunt me. The more people listen to me, the less I hate," she says.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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