People We Love: Heng Monychenda

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Heng Monychenda

Photo courtesy of Buddhism for Development

Peaceful approach in rural Cambodia

Heng Monychenda was a slave laborer under the Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970s before his family fled to a refugee camp near the Thai border.

He spent more than a decade in the camps, became a monk, and in the 1990s, returned to his home in Cambodia’s Battambang Province to create Buddhism For Development (BFD).

The organization works to empower rural Cambodians and to combat the legacy of the Khmer Rouge, which destroyed farmland and left the country stained with poverty, violence, and disillusionment. BFD established local dispute-resolution committees, made up of community members, to help prevent domestic violence and resource conflicts.

BFD continues to train thousands of farmers, young people, and volunteers to foster a “Dharmacratic” society. The group will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2010.