Husband and wife receive U.S. citizenship

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

Thoun Bou, (ton-boo), a longtime resident of Selma who is from Cambodia, received his United States citizenship last Wednesday. Bou was sworn in March 6 in Atlanta, after living and working in Selma for nearly 25 years.

Bou said becoming a United States citizen makes him proud and happy. &8220;It really affects everything in my life,&8221; Bou said via a translator Monday.

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Bou, and his wife Yonn, who also received citizenship, live and work in Selma. Bou works as a custodian at Elkdale Baptist Church, and his wife works at Altadis U.S.A.

Bou is from small town in Cambodia, where he lived as a rice farmer with his family until being called to duty as a soldier for the Cambodian government. The couple survived the Khmer Rouge regime, a government that was responsible for the deaths of more than 30 percent of the country&8217;s population.

As a soldier, Bou was forced to leave his family for extended periods of time. Bou said his wife took care of his family and children while he was away.

According to the Dith Pran Holocaust Awareness Project, under Khmer Rouge all formal institutions were banned, including banks, stores, hospitals, and schools.

Asked if a pregnant woman in labor would be able to receive care under the regime, Bou said no.

&8220;She received no help,&8221; Bou said.

Bou came to Selma after being sponsored to come to the U.S. by the First Baptist Church of Selma. After arriving, Bou took a job at Elkdale, where he has been ever since. His 25th anniversary will be in November, Elkdale Baptist church secretary Sue Walker said.

Bou has four children, who are all U.S. citizens, and a sister in Florida who is also a citizen.

Walker said Bou is excited to be eligible to vote in the 2008 elections.