Friday, January 19, 2007


My name is Rashid. I lived in Angkor Ban, 100 kms east of capital Phnom Penh. I am a fisherman, but not throughout the year. Life is hard, but we manage. Around this period (December and January) there is abundance of fish. This is the time to work hardest, for the best harvest.

Angkor Ban is a village by the Mekong river. My forefathers settled here long ago, So did other Muslim families of the Chams. Several other villages dotted the river banks. We are all third generation fishermen.
Fishing is our traditional occupation. Our children usually follows our footsteps, as I did years ago. Like any parents, I wish to give them a better life.

The government asked us to register the births of our children, for promise of a better life. We register them of course. And we hope for a better life. Meantime, life goes on.

Today (30th Dec 2006), a day before Hari Raya Qurban, a relative now living in Malaysia brought two Muslim friends to visit us, bringing along donations for Qurban. Alhamdulillah. We are happy to receive our guests. They find our fishing activities interesting. One wants a closer look and I am happy to oblige him. So, I row him up close to capture the catch. He uses his camera to catch the fish!

Later, we were happy to feast them with the catch. Fresh fish direct from the Mekong. Back home in Malaysia, my two friends will be eating frozen fish. And they will be eating at a dining table. We live in simplicity. Where we eat, we sleep. We receive our guests there too, whenever they come, which is rare.

What do we do with the fish abundance during this period? Not much. We catch. Folks from the interior will come, buy the fish and process in-situ. First, they clean the fish, chop off the heads and later mixed the fish with salt. The fermented fish will be transported back to the interior. Eaten sparingly, the supply will last them for a year until the next harvest.

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