National Elder Day Marks Loss of Customs

Prak Kun had to stop talking about her son for a few moments to stop crying. “I have waited for my son about five years to come home, but no one has come,” she said, wiping her eyes.

Draped in the traditional white clothes and with a shaved head, the 68-year-old nun from Kandal province was one of hundreds who took part in National Elder Day at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor on Tuesday.

It is stories like Prak Kun’s, abandoned by a son who left for Phnom Penh years ago and never returned and daughters who are married with families of their own, that remind Cambo­dians they owe more to their families and their traditions.

“Anybody who abandons their parents, they will get back what they have done,” Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng said at the Elder Day ceremony.

By tradition, children take care of their parents. But decades of war have eroded such customs.

Cambodia’s elderly are a wealth of knowledge and wisdom, and a society that doesn’t try to learn from them is “an anarchic society,” Sar Kheng said.


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