Burned

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Pou Pring village, Sre Ampoun Commune, Pichreada district, Mondulkiri – Cambodia During the time we spent in the remote areas of Mondulkiri, Cambodia, working on an assignment for the Spanish NGO Paz y Desarrollo, we got to meet a few indigenous families in the small village of Pou Pring.They belong, or rather, used to belong, to the Pnong ethnic minority, an aboriginal ethnic group from Cambodia who speak a Mon-Khmer language.

The people from the Pnong ethnic minority are normally not members of any organized religion, but instead are animists who revere nature.

Nowadays they seem to have lost most of their ancient traditions, as they have adopted many Western customs, such as the way they dress and, above all, the fact that they are now burning the forests that surround their village in order to plant potatoes and rubber trees.

As we were driving towards the village, it felt as if we were entering some kind of hell… flames, smoke and burning trees everywhere. But not only are they burning their forests, but also their traditions, their language, their history and their beloved spirits who are believed to inhabit these forests.