A record 126 Cambodian refugees were deported from the U.S. in 2018. Now they must adjust to living in a country many of them hadn’t seen in decades.
Every day, Sothy Kum wakes up at 6:30 a.m. to talk to his wife and their 2-year-old daughter in Wisconsin, more than 8,000 miles away from his condo in Cambodia, where he’s lived for the past nine months.
It’s 5:30 p.m. then in the Midwest, and Kum’s wife is typically just leaving work. They stay on the line for three to five hours until their daughter’s bedtime.
Those conversations have become a lifeline for Kum, 44, since he was deported to Cambodia last April. Hearing the voices of his wife and daughter helps him cope with depression as he adjusts to life in a country he left when he was 2.
“I’m still not used to it,” he said. “I’m still scared of the traffic. I can’t find any peace here.”
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