In a visit to Cambodia in 1994, just after the tragic “killing fields” experiences of the Khmer people, Advancing Native Mission’s co-president, Bo Barredo, was puzzled by the number of peddlers in the streets and parks selling little birds in bamboo cages.
“Are these birds sold for food?” Bo asked his young, educated Khmer guide.
“For some, yes, but for some, no,” he replied. Asked to explain, the young man lowered his eyes and said in a somber tone, “Sir, after almost two million of our people were killed by the brutal Khmer rouge regime of Pol Pot, we have so many woes and very sad things to share and to get them out of our hearts.”
He stopped and, after a deep sigh, continued. “But there is no one to listen. So many of us, orphans like me, widows, amputees, the maimed, the broken-hearted, and the poor will buy a little sparrow or parrot and share the whispers of our hearts—our pains or our dreams—in their ears. Then we release the birds towards heaven, hoping that somehow, someone up there will listen to our whispers and send answers.”
—In ANM December, 2006 newsletter