A Cloak of Good Fortune

Sieu Sean Do, Author of A Cloak of Good Fortune

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During Sieu Sean Do’s idyllic early years, he was immersed in the ancient rural Cambodian traditions practiced in the Kampong Speu province. His family then moved to Phnom Penh, where he adapted to the bustling city life of the capital until he was twelve. But that is when the Khmer Rouge seized control of the country to begin their awful reign of terror. City dwellers spared execution, including his family, were forced to relocate to the countryside and subjected to violence, brutality, and starvation.

After surviving a year in a labor camp in the Cambodian jungle, Sieu Sean and his family escaped and fled across the border into Vietnam.  After six years, however, he realized that Vietnam offered refuge but no future. Cambodian refugees in camps in Thailand received resettlement offers to Europe, the US, or the British Commonwealth. So once again he risked his life and traveled back across northwestern Cambodia to a refugee camp on the Cambodia-Thai border.

Due to his fluency and aptitude for languages—Khmer, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Chew chow, French, and English—the American Refugee Committee trained him as a camp physician’s assistant.  He also supported the International Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders as a volunteer serving thousands of refugees in crisis.

A Cloak of Good Fortune, Sieu Sean Do’s first book, covers the portion of his life that concludes with his arrival in the Thai refugee camp. He is now working on a second book, focused on his life in the camp, which will document the little-known, life-and-death secrets that affected the desperate refugees he encountered there. These refugees struggled to adapt while enduring crowded confinement in a foreign land as they recuperated from trauma before figuring out their next moves toward freedom.