It was 1975. Little Bona was the youngest of five sons. One night the Communist forces of the Khmer Rouge came to his village in Cambodia and took his father away, never to be heard from again. Pol Pot’s vicious four-year dictatorship had begun.
Cities were evacuated, factories and schools closed. Those believed to be intellectuals, such as teachers, medical doctors, those who spoke a foreign language, or in possession of eyeglasses or a wristwatch, were executed as enemies of the state. Millions were herded into rural collective farms. Between 1975 and 1978, nearly two million Cambodians died by execution, forced labor and famine.
Bona’s mother used a bicycle to provide for her family. On the front end was a net to carry little Bona. On either side of the bike she carried fish sauce she made and sold. Behind the bicycle she carried cultivation tools to sell: hoes, plows, machetes and sickles.
Thankfully, in 1979 Pol Pot was overthrown. Food was scarce and Bona’s mother struggled to feed her sons. After a few years two of the boys escaped to Thailand to live in a refugee camp where they learned English. They returned three years later and began teaching English to their younger siblings.
When Bona was 16 he began working in a restaurant in hopes of practicing his English. A tourist entered and a conversation ensued. John, a schoolteacher from Brooklyn, told Bona he wanted to meet his mother. Bona brought him home and when John saw their poverty, he said he wanted to help Bona get an education.
They went to the bank and John deposited $60 in an account and handed Bona his very own bank book. Thus began five years of education for Bona. Every month John would send $150. This paid for Bona’s tuition, books, housing, clothes and food while he completed high school and four years at the university. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in computer science and engineering.
Today Bona is married with children, has a successful career and still keeps in touch with his good friend John from Brooklyn.
- And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16
- What are your thoughts? Do you think John from Brooklyn has any regrets? (To leave a reply, simply scroll to the bottom.)
- Song: I KNOW HIM by Kathleen - Click here to listen: