Awarding winning author and motivational speaker Sara IM: As a survivor of the “Killing Fields in Cambodia,” during the oppressive Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s, Sara speaks to inspire, motivate, and encourage others to have hope, more courage, and a positive perspective in life. She understands that many people struggle (silently) with emotional and physical pain, due to high stress, health and personal issues that prevent them from fully enjoying life. By sharing her experience of survival in a Cambodian forced labour camp, she hopes to create a more positive perspective for her audience. She feels that because she survived, it's part of her duty to help others go beyond survival and live a life of harmonious unity in body, mind, and spirit.
In her words, ‘My mission is to inspire, motivate and encourage people to have hope, resilience and a positive perspective in their life.’
Sara is Inspiring Author, Motivational Speaker, Aspiring Entrepreneur, and a Holistic Wellness Consultant
So, without further ado, joining us from Florida USA, please welcome Sara IM.
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Unknown Speaker 0:00
Hello, everybody, I'm your host, the gentle yoga warrior. And we are now in season nine. Not only that is also a second year birthday, we have reached the infancy of two years of age. That's an absolutely fantastic. It's been so much fun to kind of share some of the most inspirational guests on the planet and to hear their stories and how they can in turn help inspire you inspire everyone on howething good, as many if I guess have unique stories, but they all kind of come back to the same kind of thing of learning to grow. And season nine is all about inspiration and life lessons. And today is episode four. And I'm really excited as we have got an amazing person on the on the call today joining us very shortly is a lady called Sara M and Sara survived the 1970s Killing Fields and Cambodia under the regime of the comer
Unknown Speaker 1:22
Unknown Speaker 1:25
And what a difficult time that was. And I just can't wait to hear from Sara and how she managed to turn her life around and yeah, and sort of go beyond survival and transform. So that's what we're going to learn how to do today. Sarah will be joining us very shortly. And stay tuned. So I'm all set. I've got my headphones on. I've got my Yeti done. I've got my cup of green tea. I've done a soundcheck. Yeah. So we're all good to go. So everybody Sara is now on the line, and I'm super excited to speak to her today. In her own words, Zahra describes her mission is to inspire, motivate and encourage people to have hope, resilience and a positive perspective in their life. So without further ado, joining us from Clearwater, Florida, please welcome today, Sara and Sara, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to speak to us. And I'm so enjoying your book is absolutely fantastic. And what an amazing person you are. I can't wait to do this interview. So welcome, Sara, welcome to the show.
Unknown Speaker 2:42
Well, thank you for having me. I Ana,
Unknown Speaker 2:47
we're going to tell her talk a bit about about your life, because absolutely fantastic. But also, obviously very dangerous and terrifying story that you had to Odile. But I would like to go talk today because we want to go beyond survival and transform our life. And I thought who better to talk to us than yourself for having survived the death camps in the killing fields in Cambodia. So for those of people who are not so knowledgeable because sometimes schools can be a bit selective on the history that they teach. And like I was very young when this happened. And I do remember a bit but it was a very it was a very long time ago. So would you please enlighten our listeners on what actually happened? Yes,
Unknown Speaker 3:37
it might My pleasure. I will start from very beginning briefly. I grew up in the countryside of Cambodia, small village. My family are farmers. So I was surrounded by nature, but my parents believe in higher education. So they encouraged me to stay in school and keep doing well and going on. So when I get an opportunity to attend college, I grab that opportunity. So I register for college, and college is far away from home. That means I need to leave my hometown leave my family behind and attend college. When I was in college. During this time of the year that we celebrate New Year is April 1975. Everything was shut down because of the holiday. And then the communist claros took over our country during that time. As we just celebrated our new year. They came in they came in with madness with with resentment and anger. So they I may want to continue to shut down the whole country. So nothing was open that mean, the school, the marketplace, the transportation and everything was completely shut down. That mean there's nothing going on and I cannot go back home. I was I was separated from my family. And not only that, they evacuate, evacuate people, all the people that live in the city, they don't want anybody to live in the city. So they push us to live everything that we ever have. So we walk away, walk away from the CV. So to make the long story short, I am in a cam, they work camp, it's really intense. They push us to work extremely hard in the windy, harsh condition. We work in the sun in the heat all day long for like 16 hours a day. And they give us very little food to eat. And only a few hours of sleep every night. We work seven days a week, there's no time to rest. So really quickly, many of us good thing within within the first couple months, we will were insane. I was very sick with high fever, malaria pipe for why? And a few other. So a lot of books that we
Unknown Speaker 6:51
see, wow, that's I just can't comprehend how difficult that must it must have been for you like because for just one of those illnesses. And but also when you're when we're really stressed as well, that makes our immune system plays havoc with our immune system. So having that kind of like, fear and being kind of controlled like that it and it was unexpected, wasn't it when they just came and kind of took over the what made you keep going within all that because you must have felt kind of like giving up some time surely? Or did you just feel really strong?
Unknown Speaker 7:25
I was mad at you. I was thinking, you know, it shouldn't be this way all the time. I think it will be better. I don't know when, but it could be better. So I just keep holding, keep holding on. My My goal is to keep myself survive. I just want to survive. So I will have a chance to go back home to find my family. So my mind my thinking is about my family back home, I want to go back. I want to be there with them. So I can help out. I was the firstborn in my family. So I'm more like a leader in my in my sibling. You know I'm the oldest girl in the family.
Unknown Speaker 8:20
You Some are absolutely amazing. And as I was reading this backtracking bit but but as I was reading about your mother, she was she was a very strong lady as well. Were trailblazer and the fact she was good at negotiations and kind of business and Sandra very strong, loving person. And I just wonder if he kind of there's a there's a lot of that in you as well to kind of keep going and and to get through all this but um, so Paul Potts, it was the leader of this communist regime that came and just took over took over everything to help me understand what better worked was he just didn't like people. He just wanted to control people or why was he making you work in all these camps not understand. So I would love to understand a bit more.
Unknown Speaker 9:08
Yeah, he, he and his guru, he is organisation communist. And they don't lie the previous government which the previous government is now communist, so they didn't like the old system. And they want to get rid of anybody that her work in the old system. Like any official. Any rank high ranking official will be eliminated. They kill them. Yeah. And also, any people that have higher education, they they want to eliminate them also, because they believe that they want to build a new country with the new way new, new set up mindset. They want to eliminate the corruption. They believe that the previous government was very corrupted. So they want to rebuild from the ground up with clean, clean people without corruption, that they are rich original intent. But as they took over the country, they they use people they punish people because they come with mindless they with anger when you when you do anything with anger you don't do a good job. You you it's not good better than nothing come out. Good out of the anger. Yeah, that's what happened.
Unknown Speaker 10:50
Awful, absolutely awful. I did read a little bit backstory on Paul Potts. And he had he wasn't very academic. He tried a lot of things. He wasn't very academic. So maybe I don't know, maybe he felt threatened by that as well. But you agree with with us are nothing comes from building something from hate or anger is the only way we can be effective as if we go from a place of love. So what happened next? So what happened next? What What? What was the next part of your journey on this?
Unknown Speaker 11:20
The next thing is that I got to think when when I start to get sick, I keep pushing myself to go to work, and they push us to go to work. They don't want anybody to pull to lay back in the camp, they want us to go out and work in the field. So I keep pushing all the way until Until one day, I can't do it anymore. I was become I was really weak and really sick. And and they want people that are really sick, that cannot work to go to a hospital. They said, Oh, there's a hospital, you need to go there. So when I got to that hospital, I realised this is not a normal hospital. That mapping the mapping to help us to get better.
Unknown Speaker 12:16
It it's the place where very sick people stay there until they die. Oh, this is more like a hospice. That's awful. Gosh, so it just sounds like it just kept getting worse and worse like this situation. And yeah, wow.
Unknown Speaker 12:35
So when when I realised that if I stay in this local hospital, if I kept staying here, I will die because there's nothing to help me to get better. And also, I will get more dizzy from other people. So I was looking for my way out, I reckon I go, if I go back to the work, Book him, I cannot work. If I stay, I will die. And if I run away, I have no strain, I am no enmity to to run away, I will get caught and I will get killed.
Unknown Speaker 13:15
Gosh Is there wasn't very many options there for you
Unknown Speaker 13:18
know, there's no local option. So as I was trying to look for my way, because the why I was thinking about my experience, my memory brought me back to when I was young, around seven years old. I remember a story that my mom was reading, it's in the book, the book, talk about this story that somebody was so so what is greedy, and he grabbed the children and the wife from another man want to use them as their slave. And they beat them up. And when God saw that there was a God, God saw what happened. His son, the angel to come to rescue the children and the woman from the bad person. And that column of story gave me an idea that there is God. There is God He exists. So I was so young at that time, but I already make up my mind. I said they just come so mad that my life is in danger. And I'm looking for my way to survive. I remember that that story. I remember that God I didn't know anything. Anything else, except I know that he exists. So I start to pray. I pray and ask him to help me. So I pray every night, every night, I want to make sure that nobody sees me because if they see me, they will take me away. And then one day, I haven't, like, God give me an energy to feel like, oh, I can walk out from here. So I sneak out from very early in the morning, I sneak out escape from that place. And then on my way back to the webcam, there was one young team leader, she was so kind, she saw me and she feel so sympathy for me. And she told me in her group, and she said, you know, I'll have you find something to do. But she realised that I'm thrilled to see. So the next day she said, I talked to the kitchen people, and they say they can use you. Yeah. So I think God, um, so my prayer, that's thinking, you know, and also my prayer, it put me in the kitchen where I can work in the shade. And I have more access to food, and I work less hour, and I have more time to rise. So gradually, gradually, I feel better. So I stayed there for several months. Until I read were my my house, recover my house. I feel better, better. But you know, they, they didn't let me stay there forever. They pull me out. They pull me out from there and throw me by into the rice field.
Unknown Speaker 16:48
Oh, no. That's awful. Wow. Yeah. So what was the hardest thing for you? In the camps? What was the most like? And it sounds a bit of a silly question, because it sounds like it was all hard like, but what what was what thing that felt the worst? And then what became the one thing the glimmer of hope outside that?
Unknown Speaker 17:12
Yeah, for me, is the sickness, the sickness, the malnutrition, the starvation. It's, it's, it's, it's killing us. The sickness does make me extremely sick. At one point, I almost die. Some of my friends warned me not to take a nap during the day. Because they know many other people that took a man that did not have enough energy to wake up. They are extremely weak. So I was at that point. If I took a nap, I probably then wake up. Yeah, yeah. So yeah, so So the hardest thing the illness, starvation. And, and also the separation from my family.
Unknown Speaker 18:18
Because you were only 21. So that, to me is still quite young and, and to be a part of them, and it and it was probably like the first when you went to college, it was probably the first time you had been apart from as well. So it wasn't that you were well practised with being apart from them. And it must have been very, and also not knowing what was happening with them as well. Because I guess is a time before people had mobile phones and ways of kind of contacting each of us are kind of unknown. You did survive. You turned your life around and became a great source of inspiration. Now, I, I want I don't want to share too much of our listeners, listeners, because I would like you to to read Sara's book, and find out the rest of the story there from from her wonderful book. But Saara so you turned your life around. How did you go beyond the survival and transform your life?
Unknown Speaker 19:19
Yeah, it's, um, it paint. It takes me a long time. It had been 40 years, more than 40 years now. And what I realised when I arrived in United States, I receive a lot of help from people from the stranger from the local churches, organisation and churches that had the new arrival, the new refugee that came to your mind state to start our life over. And I start to observe how kindness They are they they never know me before. And that was the first observation. And also after the time goes on as I heal from my painful experience, I realised that, you know, I learned a lot, I learned, how did I keep myself alive, I learned that it was my mindset, it was my positive outlook, it was my hope that I never give up hope. That was my love for my family. I have built a strong love relationship with my mom and my brothers. So there's so many, many good life lesson that I should keep to myself. I want to share I want to share because when people know this, they if they tap into their own life, they will be stronger, they will be able to, to, to be courageous, like just like I did. And they become confident, become loving, kind are we want in this world
Unknown Speaker 21:18
listening to you, and you just you just emanate this love and kindness. And I can imagine that people that come into contact, you can't help but feel inspired by by yourself. So, um, Sara, your book, The how I survived the killing feels, and it's your true story of your life before? And what happened? And I haven't got that far. Yes, in it, which is, um, which is I wished you before this interview, but also kind of what must have happened afterwards. Tell us a bit about this. Did you? Are you I'm so pleased, I've got a copy.
Unknown Speaker 22:05
Yeah, the book I wrote seven years ago, the same, the same intention that I want to help people. It's not about me, it's not about my journey, but it's about how I did it. About what, what, what was the good stuff that I knew that people can learn from. So that's what I want to show people. And then at the end of my story, is when I arrived in United State, and I was able to bring my whole family to over out of danger, and a second time reunion in United States. So the first reunion was in Cambodia, and then I had to escape out of the country. And then I brought them over, and we save a secondary Union. It was it was amazing that at the end of the day, when you know that your family is safe, healthy, and together and loving one a mother that made my day that that's, I believe everybody would want that. Because love and family and relationships that keep us healthy, keep us living longer in harmony. So I feel like you know, I did the best I can to give to give a safety to my family. And and also, I talked about some of the the lesson that people can start practising at the end of the book, you know, some of the
Unknown Speaker 24:02
that's gonna be very very helpful for people because we can go we can get stuck in the survival mode cartwheel and not able to move out on that and obviously yours is a very compelling story but there's there's different elements or different ways that people have to survive in different ways. Some people don't have a loving family there's all different kinds of awesome people all at all number of different ways. So I think that's that's really valuable Sara to have kind of exercises that can help people and know that you you you help people, don't you? Apart from your book, you also have some services that you can offer people as well. Would you mind speaking about them today Sara.
Unknown Speaker 25:08
Yes, of course, I now a speaker, an inspirational speaker, that means I want to inspire people to spark a little bit of passion. So that they can have had the purpose in life and help make plan to achieve that purpose. And also, to get rid of bitterness, resentment and anger. You know, the negative thoughts and negative feelings that we hold on in our, in our body, it will eat us upset about it as a part because we don't want any negativity to stay in our body. We want to merge a body with positive thoughts, positive thinking positive feelings, like love and kindness and compassion. Those are the positive things that we want to bring into our life. So that we can share with other people. And another important thing is that we have to forgive. To know, you know, how hard that is to forgive those people.
Unknown Speaker 26:25
That's yeah, instead of focusing on their pain, monarchism love for them. Wow. Because that's, that's a lot to forgive. So, you know, you would understand, forgiven that, but it sounds like use the love of your family to kind of move move past such a atrocity. And, yeah, because it works. I was reading I've got to be honest, I was getting angrier to speak and how can they treat people like this? And, and my understanding a bit more from yourself as well. It's just, I don't know, how could they think that was going to build a better, less corrupt country by starving people and kind of torturing people killing people is a very dangerous kind of blind spot for them to have. And I just think you're absolutely remarkable to kind of cut to have come through all that. So if I'm a listener now, and I would like to work with you in some way or to learn from you what is the best way that I could do that?
Unknown Speaker 27:58
Yeah, we can think of a way to, to collide, collaborate and love to collaborate, we can, we can do some events, like workshop or conference. I love to do conference. Now that now that we have this platform online platform, that the globe is getting smaller, we're getting closer,
Unknown Speaker 28:26
beautiful, we can slowly true. You know, it's just because if we have all that kind of tap into our love and learn from to bring experiences and share, share and knowledge and integration with others, I think love is what changes the world. If you've got a top tip that our listeners could do now if they how to kind of forgive.
Unknown Speaker 28:54
Yes, I love to talk about bad. We can start by feeling grateful. Gather being big, grateful, it's a very positive thing. We have to focus on what we have. Now what we don't have. So, for example, when they they pushed me out from the city, I left everything behind. If I if I keep thinking about all my beautiful clothes on my beautiful shoes, everything, I would never recover this way. But I forgot all about that. It's not that important, the important. I have to feel I feel grateful that I'm still alive. I'm grateful that they did not beat me up every day, although I got sick and so on, but they didn't To punish me. So, there's so many ways that you can look for goodness, we can find goodness in every situation, even though how how bad situation I was, I still find some goodness in it,
Unknown Speaker 30:19
that that was absolute faith that you had, because there wasn't anything showing that your situation was going to change. But there was something inside of you from your faith and your connection with your religion that kind of had was like a kind of helped you through it all and inspired you. And hence, I guess where you're still in helping people today? And if your website is Sara.com, is that correct?
Unknown Speaker 30:50
Yeah, Sarah m s, a raim.com. Calm,
Unknown Speaker 30:56
brilliant. And that's so listeners, you can pick up saris amazing book from her website. And I just like to say I'm in the UK, and it arrived very quickly. So it was absolutely fantastic and well worth, well worth a read. And I was reading it so much that my partner was I was holding a fence while he's trying to do an adjustment on the fence. And I was like reading the book of one.
Unknown Speaker 31:20
You asked me for some tips. One more thing that people can do right now is building relationships with people around. Like when I was in the cam, I have I build a sisterhood. That means I've been friendship among the people that that was in the same situation, we support each other. So right now, when people are going through hard time, just reach out, reach out to have to support each other. That's very important. social connection is very important.
Unknown Speaker 31:56
It's very important to have that connection with people like some people may not see anyone all day. So I think a kind smile a hello just you know, to someone that you pass in the street because you never know you might have been the only person that they've seen that day. It's such an honour to have this connection with you as well, today's IRA and I just I'm looking forward to watching watching what you're doing. You have such a light in your face your you're just such a kind face. Yeah, you can see that this wonderful glow from your being and it's it's just a joy to speak to you and to connect to you today. And this is probably one of the most honourable conversations that have I've had with with someone before. And I'm so proud to have interviewed you and to have your book. But is there anything else you'd like to say before I let you get back to your wonderful day?
Unknown Speaker 32:54
Yes, I would like to invite the audience the listener to reach out to me, because you can schedule an appointment with me for a free discovery call to see if anything I can help you. So if you are going through some challenging time and would like to get some tips, some support, just reach out to me on my my calendar on my website. Brilliant. So
Unknown Speaker 33:21
they can just go on your onto your website and on your calendar and just schedule a discovery call. And
Unknown Speaker 33:28
yes, yes, there is one part of it part about my public speaking and they can invite me and also there is some events that are going on there. They can follow me where when I speak Pro.
Unknown Speaker 33:45
They amazing inspiring Zahra M joining us today from the USA. It's been an absolute joy. To stay to listeners. As always, we do a meditation together as inspired by today's show. But Sara, thank you so much and loving lights you and you are an amazing person. So thank you for this grace of speaking to you say
Unknown Speaker 34:07
thank you for having me again. As
Unknown Speaker 34:09
promised here is your meditation. Inspired by today's show. Top Tips for the meditation is either sit nice and cross legged on the floor of a nice straight back. Always nice to sit on a block or a cushion, or that's not available for you. You sit in a chair with a back nice and straight. The important thing is you're not slouching and if you're doing something that requires you concentration are you to do is just pause this and you can reconvene the meditation at a time that is good for you. If you're doing the meditation, that's vegan. So I thought today's meditation would be about courage and courage is not to have the absence of fear. That's one thing people can often get mixed up with, to have courage. which is to kind of have this faith is knowing there's a willingness to kind of go on even when one is frightened. So let's take some slow calm deep breaths in and out through the nostrils. As you inhale Can you feel as if the abdomen expands, as you exhale, can you feel as if the abdomen comes in inhalation, exhalation, calming the breath right down as you inhale as you exhale. So perhaps there's something that you wish to fry than within your life. But fear has cast a hefty obstacle upon your part. So in your imagination, Imagine you're walking through this kind of dirt track a country lane. So this feels either side of you. And in many senses is quite an easy walk, because you kind of have an idea of where you're headed, and what direction you want to go in. Yet, as you turn each corner, you can't see the next corner. And perhaps within your being, you start to feel a bit fearful, what could be around that corner, what could be lurking there. And then past, perhaps you didn't go any further out of fear that there wasn't actually any real danger there. But it was just a kind of fear that kept you stuck to the spot. So I invite you in your imagination to take one step at a time. So as you walk along the road, you're taking one gentle step at a time, as you inhale, as you exhale, you're allowing the body to
Unknown Speaker 37:03
Unknown Speaker 37:09
greatness was not achieved at once. Having the courage to put one foot in front of the other, of course, is not about being reckless, but at the same time, it's about having applied wisdom. So perhaps you don't know exactly what's around the corner. It's okay to gingerly turn each corner and have your awareness of what is unfolding. But the key is to be present. So in your imagination as you make your way along this road, can you can you allow yourself to be present? But what if I don't like my present life? I hear some of you say, or I imagine rather, some of you say, or take inspiration from today's talk. Think of the things that you do like about it. It doesn't have to be vast things. Maybe there's quite a lot going on your life, which you're not so happy about. But can you think of some things that make you happy? It can be the scent of a coffee in the morning, the smiles of a loved one, whatever it is, that kind of evokes a sense of well being even in the face of adversity? Can you keep going. So as he turns next corner, all as well, you're walking along, you're in your flow. And then perhaps as you turn the next corner, there's an obstacle there. Don't let that take you off your flow. Just say you turn the next corner, and now it was blocked by a tree. Why instead of given up, think the way that you can get around that maybe over it's in your imagination that sits under it? Through it, there's always a solution to every problem. And if it's completely blocked, maybe that's not the way you're meant to go. Maybe you take the turning the other way. Equally, don't just flee from your path. Because you think it's easier to not do it if that's what your heart's desire, says all about balance. So I want you to picture in your mind's eye now where you would like to go? Where would you like to be in that flow and just remember the feeling that evokes inside and thank you, dear one for listening today, for being so wonderfully alive. So listen to this meditation was often as you need. Allow yourself to be free. Allow yourself to be in the flow. and allow yourself to let go. So thank you for listening. Dear one. I hope this helps you today. If you want to, you can journal away, you can sit a bit more quiet for a bit longer if that is what you need. Just allow yourself to be beautiful simply by being and allowing yourself to be free. So and the gentle yoga warrior Thank you for listening. If you'd like a personalised meditation for your specific problem, please go to our website where we can offer amazing recorded meditations in a style that's right for you. So over and out for me. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
: Awarding winning author and motivational speaker Sara IM: As a survivor of the “Killing Fields in Cambodia,” during the oppressive Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s, Sara speaks to inspire, motivate, and encourage others to have hope, more courage, and a positive perspective in life. She understands that many people struggle (silently) with emotional and physical pain, due to high stress, health and personal issues that prevent them from fully enjoying life. By sharing her experience of survival in a Cambodian forced labour camp, she hopes to create a more positive perspective for her audience. She feels that because she survived, it's part of her duty to help others go beyond survival and live a life of harmonious unity in body, mind, and spirit.
We pick an episode from a previous show which will help inspire you during the month of December!!