Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation: Manila, 31 August 2005
The honorable Chief Justice Hilario Davide, trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, distinguished guests, fellow awardees, ladies and gentlemen, good evening.
Sombath’s vision for sustainable development aims to foster respects for nature and humanity. He advocates for mindful education and inclusive development highlighting ordinary people, especially young people who are the potential of change.
It has been 4 years since the last time his family heard from him. The night of December 15, 2012 became a horrid silence that continues until today. For the past 4 years, family and friends of Sombath Somphone have called the Lao government and world leaders to bring forth Sombath’s whereabouts. Sadly, our leaders have failed us. We would like to reiterate the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights’s (APHR) question “If the Lao government really wants to solve Sombath Somphone case and is as concerned as the rest of us, then why is it blocking all possible avenues for the investigation?” (more…)
Dear Uncle Sombath,
I have not written to you in a long time, since you disappeared. That hit me inside, in my heart. It made me wonder what I should do about my work, because you were always my role model, ever since I was a PADETC volunteer while in secondary school.
The first time I saw you was when you explained your work to a group of youth volunteers from Vientiane. At that time, Pui Duangkhae was the team leader mobilising volunteers who were interested in learning about the environment in Phu Khao Khwai. We met at the bamboo garden, and you and Uncle Outhin briefed us before we went to the park. Your words at that time greatly impressed me. You said we needed the forest, but the forest did not need us. Those words made me think that we must preserve and care for the forest, and it was the beginning of my journey as an environmental volunteer. We started by removing garbage from the steams in the Phu Khao Khwai Protected area in 1996. (more…)
Dear Respected Uncle,
I hope you are well. Five years ago, I asked you for advice about a new job. You never refused to help. Even if you had a lot of work, you would always find time for me. The only exception was that it could not conflict with the time you played ping pong. I smile whenever I think about that. Even when I was not asking about work directly, you gave guidance and encouragement when I needed it.
It has been three years that I don’t know where you are, but I still remember what you told me the first time I met you: “Be a half-full, or nearly full glass, but never a full glass. To never be full leaves room for new lessons, it leaves us open to learn what is right, to absorb new thoughts, to move us forward and give us encouragement. For that which is not appropriate, pour it out so you won’t get misled, so you can move in a better direction.” I can remember your words well, and recall them often, especially when I encounter a problem.
It has been three years, and I am not the only one who remembers what you taught. I have met many others who have grown with the thoughts you shared. They remember your words as well. The passing time has not erased what you built. Your work has been taken up by a new generation strengthened through your efforts. You opened opportunities for us to develop ourselves, and we can move forward on our own.
With this letter, I want to thank you again for your valuable guidance. Thank you for your impressive achievements which benefit society. We have learned and adapt them for our use. Thank you for giving us youth a chance to grow, and thank you for the opportunity to know you. Finally, I hope that what you have built will continue to spread and foster the development of society and the next generation.
With love and respect,
A youth that admires your vision