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The Family

Meet the family members featured in NEW YEAR BABY.

Socheata Poeuv

Socheata Poeuv
(so-CHEE-tah puv)
NEW YEAR BABY director

"My parents and even my sisters kept this secret from me for 25 years. I felt like I didn’t know my own family. And I wondered what other secrets had they left behind in Cambodia?"

Socheata Poeuv was born in a refugee camp on Cambodian New Year’s Day, after her parents had fled the Khmer Rouge genocide and escaped to Thailand. She moved to Texas with her family in 1982. Socheata graduated from Smith College in 2002, and worked in network news for four years. She has developed an organization called Khmer Legacies which records stories of Khmer Rouge survivors.
More about Socheata Poeuv >>

Houng Poeuv

Houng Poeuv (Ma)
(HOONG puv)
Socheata's mother

"Every day that I woke up still alive, thanks God that I’m still alive. And every day I see my relatives, my family, die one at a time. I’m so scared all of them gonna die."

Houng Poeuv grew up in Cambodia and survived the Khmer Rouge genocide. Half of her extended family, totaling 30 members, died during this period. Houng immigrated to the United States in 1982 and raised her family by sewing in a sweatshop and working at the assembly line of an electronics manufacturing company. She is a supervisor at Dallas Semiconductor.

Nin Poeuv

Nin Poeuv (Pa)
(nin puv)
Socheata's father

"The night you were born, you came out in a big rush and I was surprised. The doctor had said, 'I’m going to lunch.' And out you came! I said, 'Doctor, come back! My baby has been born!'"

Nin Poeuv was born in a rice farming village in Cambodia. As a young man, he was a monk in a Buddhist monastery, a traveling salesman and then a soldier in the Lon Nol army. To raise his family in Dallas, he worked as a janitor, a balloon maker and an assembly line worker at an electronics manufacturing company. Now retired, Nin enjoys exercising, volunteering for the Cambodian Buddhist Temple in Dallas and watching Cambodian karaoke videos.

Mala Kissam

Mala Kissam
(MA-lah KIS-sam)
Socheata's half-sister

"At one of the camps, the first night, my dad, they took him away and that was the last time I ever seen him. They took me away from my family and put me in the children’s camp."

Mala Kissam was born in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. During her early childhood, she lost everyone in her immediate family except for her sister Leakhena. In 1982, she immigrated to Dallas, TX with the rest of the Poeuv family. Mala graduated with a degree in business administration from the University of North Texas. She lives in Dallas and has three children, Amanda, Andrew and Austin. Mala is earning her certification to be a schoolteacher.

Leakhena Sears

Leakhena Sears
(leh-KEE-nah seers)
Socheata's half-sister

"Sometimes there’s food for us to eat. Sometimes there’s not. So you go line up to go get food, but then they end up give you just a piece of rock salt. Sometimes you just lick that to sleep."

Leakhena Sears was born in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and immigrated to the United States in 1982. Except for her sister Mala, she lost her entire immediate family during the Khmer Rouge. Leakhena graduated with a degree in occupational therapy from Texas Women’s University in Denton, TX. She is married with two children, Kameron and Pauleena, and lives in Dallas.

Learn about the Khmer Rouge >>

View a photo journal of Socheata Poeuv's travels to Cambodia >>

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