Lynn Prum

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American dream found: Cambodia pair see it in their kids

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

“I’m so happy,” said Lynn. “I didn’t think we would ever have a life like this. This is like a dream.”


Lynn and Thy pose with their last trey of donuts at Uncle Ray’s Donut Shop in Yucaipa. The couple fled Cambodia 34 years a go to escape the Khmer Rouge regime, led by Pol Pot for a better life in the United States.

YUCAIPA, CA – Twenty-nine years ago, a then 21-year-old Lynn Prum embarked on a dangerous journey across her homeland of Cambodia. She carried with her a dream of freedom and a better life in the United States.

And on Sunday, Lynn realized that what she risked her life for was coming to fruition. Her oldest daughter, 22-year-old Ang Kem, graduated with a bachelor’s degree from UC San Diego.

“I am so happy,” Lynn said. “I am so proud of her.”

But this is not a tale so much of a child’s accomplishments, but of parents whose perserverance made it possible for their children to tread where they could not. The American dream, it seems, came true for all of the Kem family.

None of that could have happened had Lynn not taken some life-threatening risks. In 1979, Lynn, her sister and her brother-in-law dared to cross the Cambodian border into Thailand.

At the time, Cambodia was in the clutches of the Khmer Rouge regime, led by Pol Pot, born Saloth Sar. It was a time of slave labor, malnutrition and starvation, and the deaths of an estimated 2million Cambodians.

“We hid until the soldiers were gone, then we snuck across,” Lynn said. “If they would have caught us, they would have killed us.”

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