Emotional Moment Two Elderly Cambodian Sisters Reunite After 47 Years Apart

Until last week, Granny Bun Sen, 98, and Granny Bun Chea, 101, hadn't seen each other for 47 years.

The two sisters have been reunited after almost five decades apart, each thinking the other had died during the Khmer Rouge regime that devastated Cambodia in the 1970s.

The pair were separated in 1973, two years after the brutal regime swept through the southeast Asian nation, killing millions and leaving the country in political and economic turmoil.

For decades, both sisters believed the other had died.

But with the help of the Cambodian Children's Fund (CCF), the sisters have found each other again.

Reunited. Granny Bun Sen and Granny Bun Chea both thought the other had died during the Khmer Rouge regime. Image: Cambodian Children's Fund.

Granny Bun Sen is well known in the CCF community and forms an important part of the not-for-profit organisations' 'Granny Program' where elderly grandmothers teach younger generations about lost customs and values.

"Unlike many of parents here, the grandparents remember the true Khmer customs," CCF wrote.

"These grannies are vessels of wisdom, having lived through good times and bad, through the days of French colonization, independence, the Khmer Rouge reign and the civil wars that followed."

Granny Bun Sen never returned to her village after being displaced during the regime.

After losing her husband, she settled instead among the communities that formed around what was the Stung Meanchey garbage dump in the nation's capital of Phnom Penh.

The 98-year-old said she had always hoped to return to her village, but living in a wheelchair had made it difficult for her to do it alone.

Image: Cambodian Children's Fund

While organising a trip for Granny Bun Sen, leaders at the organisation discovered that some of her family were still alive and living in the village.

“To be able to hold my older sister means so much," Granny Bun Sen said after the emotional reunion.

"And the first time my younger brother touched my hand, I started crying.”

Her sister, Granny Bun Chea who also lost her husband in the regime, leaving her widowed with 12 children, said she thought her sister was one of her 13 family members that had been killed by Pol Pot's regime.

"It has been such a long time," Granny Bun Chea said.

"We talked about her but I never thought we would see her again.”

Granny Bun Sen with CCF Founder Scott Neeson. Image: Cambodian Children's Fund

According to her story shared on the CCF website, Granny Bun Sen joined the organisation in 2004.

At the time she was earning a living by trawling through trash in the streets of the nation's capital while caring for several children who had been left at the garbage dump.

It was there she met CCF Founder Scott Neeson and introduced him to a number of families the organisation has since cared for.

10 daily's consulting editor Sandra Sully met with Granny Bun Sen in 2018.

Watch their encounter in the video above.

"I have such fond memories of meeting Bun Sen who is so very frail. I spent about half an hour with her talking about the violence she and her family endured during the Pol Pot years, and her intense sadness at losing so many of her own children," Sully said of their meeting.

10 daily's consulting editor Sandra Sully with Granny Bun Sen. Image: 10 News First

"CCF greatly values the grannies of Stung Meanchey for the Cambodian history and traditions they are passing on to the many orphaned children being schooled at CCF," she added.

"Their stories are invaluable and their hearts are still so big.

"She (Bun Sen) is a living treasure and I couldn’t be happier for her to have finally found some long lost family."

Sandra Sully


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