Photographs at www.elaine-harvey.com
Encounters on the Front Line is a portrait of a nurse’s experience in Cambodia. The story explores three journeys, the first in 1980 when Elaine Harvey worked as a nurse for the Red Cross in the Cambodian refugee camps. Many years later, she returned, as a traveler and a volunteer, working at an orphanage and an AIDS hospice. In this compelling story, the reader will come to know more about Cambodia and its people, who were as 'gracious as the lotus, blooming in muddy waters.' The author shares her profound experience of Cambodia with unflinching honesty and vivid imagery.
In 1980 Elaine Harvey worked for the International Red Cross in the Cambodian refugee camps immediately after the fall of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. It was a time when sorrow fell like monsoon rain. “I was not a victim of war, poverty, or starvation, but I was a witness. As a witness, I came to understand that the front lines take a toll on our lives. They test how far we will go, how much we will give and how deep we will travel.” In 2007 and 2009 she returned to Cambodia, volunteering in a rural orphanage and a city hospice. She met the people on the front lines – the human rights activists, the caregivers, and those who needed care, inspiring her to explore the challenges of service. Her journey was a quest of the heart to meet the new face of Cambodia and honor the one she left behind.
“Powerful and poignant, intimate and insightful. The careful reader will learn a great deal about Cambodia’s recent history and current culture as the Khmer people struggle to deal with the unfathomable trauma that continues to shape them.” Bill Herod, Human Rights worker, Cambodia
There are countless untold stories of witness after genocide. Few can summon the stamina to tell them. What is it like to work in a refugee camp of 100,000 traumatized people, to be part of an international community trying to respond to war, to atrocity? What does it mean to try to make sense of such human tragedy thirty years later? Elaine Harvey’s Encounters on the Front Line is the compelling answer to these questions, her story well and passionately told. To read this book is also to witness to our times.
Kim Echlin, The Disappeared, a Giller prize finalist
“A riveting, enlightening read that brims with perspective. Harvey writes with great honesty, passion, and clarity.”
Woody Wheeler, Writer
Elaine nous les décrit avec beaucoup de profondeur et de poésie. Un livre que toute personne intéressée au travail humanitaire et au Cambodge devrait lire. Élisabeth Carrier, International Nurse