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"Pathways to a Brighter Future": The story of the indigenous Bunong


Inn Chret, community organizer

Inn Chret lives in remote Mondulkiri province, Cambodia. Mr. Chret is a Bunong, an indigenous tribe whose lives and livelihoods are becoming dramatically impacted by the Cambodian government's seizure of the Bunong's ancestral lands and sacred forests. Despite these hardships Mr. Chret is committed to supporting his people and giving them a voice through democratic means. As an elected member of the emerging Cambodian Indigenous People Democratic Party, the Bunong voice is now beginning to be heard. Listen to Mr. Chret as he discusses the rich history and culture of the Bunong as well as the severe challenges that have forged an unwavering passion to preserve the Bunong way of life.


About the speaker:

Inn’s father and older brother were killed by the Khmer Rouge. His family also suffered numerous tragedies at the hands of this regime. In 2000 Inn’s mother moved her family to the nearby Oreang district where there was an elementary school. Inn began attending school at the age of 11. Upon graduating, Inn qualified to attend Hun Sen High School in Saen Monourom (25 km from Oreang district). Living alone while attending high school, Inn independently learned English at night and worked as a part-time tour guide. Inn shared the history and culture of the indigenous people, the sacred role of elephants, and remote ancestral lands with visitors from around the world. He graduated from high school in 2012 and moved to Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia to attend Cambodian Mekong University graduating in 2018.

Inn Chret first met Susan and Tom Barbitta in Mondulkiri in 2013. The Barbittas, who reside in North Carolina, founded a small charity, Cake for Kids Cambodia, a 501(c)3 that supports the indigenous Bunong children through education and improvements in their quality of life. Since 2013, Mr. Chret has served the charity as in-country Program Manager. Without Inn, the charity would be unable to deliver its mission. While serving in the Cambodian Indigenous People Democratic Party, Inn and his wife Lena ran a small coffee shop in Mondulkiri. Inn also teaches local children English each evening, volunteering his time to enrich those around him.


Parking + transit information for guests and visitors

Option 1:
Parking Garage 2: Mostly-covered garage serving the Duke Health System buildings in the area. Visitors to the John Hope Franklin Center may also park here.

Enter from Erwin Rd or Elba St (entering via Elba St. is recommended)

Visitors: Pull an entry ticket; before returning to your vehicle, pay at an automated pay station (parking vouchers are available to event attendees).
Rate: $2.00/hour

Option 2:
Limited spaces (up to 12) are available in a lot adjacent to the Franklin Center on a first-come, first-serve basis; Enter off Trent Dr.

PaybyPhone (#3108) should be used for these spaces; be careful not to park in a reserved space or in spaces designated for "PG2."
Rate: $2.00/hour + service fee (charged per transaction)

Option 3:
Public transit is available via GoTriangle buses: #400 and #405 as well as #6 and #DRX stop within easy walking distance of the Franklin Center.