Rathana Ung is passionate about helping people. She has spent much time in Cambodia, where she joined friends and family to build wells, water systems, and a floating school in a water village for the people in need there. While in Cambodia, Rathana Ung made a special effort to help the Muslim community to promote unity in the region.
Most Cambodians practice Buddhism, but Muslims make up a sizable minority numbering around 500,000. Around 80 percent of the Muslim minority belong to the ethnic Cham group. Cham Muslims value education and helping those less fortunate. During the 1970s, the Cham Muslims were targeted by the Khmer Rouge regime. Over 130 mosques were destroyed during the period.
The Khmer Rouge regime lasted from 1975 to 1979. The era left a mark on the Cham people of Cambodia, but the community has been rebuilding since that time. While the country is still in poverty, there is relative peace and freedom of religion. Modern challenges faced by the Cham include a higher percentage of orphaned children than Cambodia’s overall average, as well as a shortage of schools and mosques.