Millions of land mines litter the grounds of Cambodia, in mostly rural areas. This man is 1 of 40,000 victims of the mines living as amputees in the country. I was walking around the market with my camera, fiddling with settings, then I looked up. I made eye contact with him, and at first didn't realize he was missing a leg. I quickly realized the man standing in front of me had been through more than most of us can even fathom.
The aftermath of the Khmer Rouge, that killed hundreds of thousands of it's own people, is still very present. The Khmer Rouge was still active as late as 1999. If you're reading this, you were probably alive at the same time this war and genocide was happening on the other side of the world.
These land mines are still active, and I was reminded of that as soon as I met this man. At the same time, you can see the strength in his eyes. In the way he stands proudly. The way he is looking directly into my camera. The fact that he is even standing on crutches, in contrast to other amputees I see sitting on the streets or rolling on little boards with wheels through the market. This man found a way to make a living instead of sitting by and living as a beggar. He is selling books, including one I bought called "First They Killed My Father" by Loung Ung, which was the basis for Angelina Jolie's film of the same name.
I also love the way the girl in the background is looking at him, with respect, with dignity, with intrigue. She could easily look away or see disgust, or even be looking at me with my camera. But no, this man had much more to say. And this is only a glimpse into his story.