My Story

In 1975, I was attending college in Cambodia, when the Khmer Rouge Communist took over our country. Within 4 years, 2 M people died, which is ¼ of the Cambodian population.  As one of the survivors, I’m here to tell my story.

Cambodia was a beautiful land with lush tropical foliage of exotic plants, flowers, fruits, and animals. The world knew Cambodia by the marvelous, one of the seven wonder of the world “Angkor Wat”; a beautiful, world famous, vast stone monument built 900 years ago.

As a child I was secured, loved and be honored “first born.” I was fortunate to attend college in the Capital City of Phnom Penh, 400 miles away from my family and my hometown.
When the Khmer Rouge Communist came in, they immediately shut down the city, blocked all line of transportation and evacuated everybody out of the city on foot. We were forced to leave everything we owned. For over a month we walked in the intense hot sun, ate the little food we carried from home, and slept on the ground. I ended up in a big work camp, under a strict supervision of the armed guards. We were pushed to work in a horrible condition in the rice fields. Every day (7 days/week), I got to sleep only 3-4 hours every night which.  I was hungry and exhausted. Within only a few weeks, the terrible living situation, the lack of food and nutrition and the lack of sleep made many people become sick. I got sick with malaria, typhoid, emaciated and was frail beyond recognition. With all this sickness, I still needed to work every day.  Eventually, I got too sick to work. They sent the sick people like me to a makeshift infirmary. I quickly realized that people in this shelter died almost every day. I had gone near death a few times. No matter how sick I was, I wanted to live to see my family again. I thought about my mom and my baby brother who I missed and loved so much.  My love for my family gave me hope and strength to keep fighting for my life. I thought about running away from that place.

As my mind wondered, I remembered the story that mom used to read to me at night when I was little. That story showed me so clearly that there is God who sees everything and He is kind and compassionate. Since my childhood, I believed there was a God. Now that I needed to survive, I began to pray for God to help me to survive. I prayed every night. My love for Mom and Mom’s love for me gave me hope and strength. One day, I felt a little extra energy, and I began to walk away from the infirmary toward the place where the working people stayed. When I got there, one kind team leader, Kim, took me into her group. Kim kept her eyes on me, and realized how sick I was. The next day, Kim told me to work in the kitchen. I was extremely happy and grateful because I had access to more food as well as worked in the shade and got more rest. I began to feel better, gain some weight and energy. I then realized that I have survived. God knew where I needed to be in order to survive.

Several months later, when they saw me look better, they sent me back to work in the harsh rice fields. After enduring for four long dreadful years, the armed guards began to move us deeper into the dense woods. When I realized that I was being pushed to go in the wrong direction, I gathered three trusted friends to plan a dangerous escape. Thanks to God, our escape was successful; we survived. After walking bare foot for one month, I tracked down my family. At our first sight, my mom and I hugged each other so tight.  We then cried and laughed; we were ecstatic. In a matter of about 6 months, mom & dad helped restore my health with their love along with the organic fruits and vegetables from their garden.

Shortly after, due to the terrible circumstances, I faced a heart breaking need to escape out of the country. I escaped through the jungle to the Thai border. I arrived in a refugee camp that was set up by the United Nations. After making a connection with my only relative in the US, he sponsored me to come to CT. I arrived one year later. I fell into the loving arms of amazing Christian people who helped me tremendously to rebuild my new life. Finally, I got to know the true God who I believe had been protecting me and directing me along the way.

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Sara shares her story to a group of women

Sara has NOMINATED (N) or Introduced (I) the following, plus (S- person shared their story):

  1. Mona Giordano (N)
  2. Lea Tran (N, S)
  3. Jaleh‘s story (N, S)

My Advice

I would like to share 4 tips that I used and saved my life in my adversities.

1. Love: when I was stripped away from everything I owned, I held on tight to my strong love for my family. Life is really nothing without Love. When I look back, I'm grateful that my time spent to care for mom in my teenage years was God’s gift to help me build such a solid strong love bond with mom and prepared me for the biggest fight of my life. Who do you love the most? How can you ensure it's strong enough to save your life? Is there anything you can do to strengthen it?

2. Hope: “Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, achieves the impossible.” Hellen Keller My hope came from my vision and my yearning to be reunited with my family. That clear vision gave me a strong hope to keep on fighting for my life, especially when things got very difficult.
Is your hope strong and clear enough for you to keep moving forward toward your goals?

3. Faith: During those dark days, I prayed and believed that God would hear my prayers. I had faith and believed with patience to endure that a better day would be coming. Our faith made us feel confident and patient while waiting. When we have faith, we tend to be optimistic and positive about our future circumstances. I encourage you to hold on to your faith, because faith will give you an inner strength, a sense of balance and positive perspective on life.

4. Healing - Healing doesn’t mean that the damage never existed. It means that the damage no longer controls our lives! Healing begins in the heart. Emotional healing is critical to help us move forward positively in our life's journey. If we want to live a healthy and happy life, we must learn to let go of our negative feelings such as regret, bitterness and anger. I leaned to do that by fixing my eyes on my gratitude on what I had left.

Remember to keep your love, hope and vision alive! Continue to keep your strong faith. Restore your health and continue to enjoy your journey and sustain an unshakable determination to pursue your wonderful dreams!!!

My business card

Sara Im, Speaker-Author-Wellness Consultant

Personal Development & Wellness

My approach to help people to live a fulfilling life personally and professionally with confidence is Wholeness. Your personal strength, confidence and positive mindset are your big contributing factors in the success of your business.

My typical customer

I have been invited to speak for: Small businesses, entrepreneurs, business & professional associations, churches etc., who plan any event for their organization (conferences, seminars, workshops).

Contact me

Phone: 727-512-3017

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Sam Swirsky says:

This is one of the most amazing stories that I have ever read. The strength and drive that sustained you was a blessing directly from God. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

Sara+Im says:

Dear Sam,
Thank you so much for reading my story. I appreciate you.


What a great story about how faith helped you get through that horrible time.

Great ideas about healing being letting go of damage, not erasing it.

Sara+Im says:

Thank you for sharing what resonate with you. Yes, faith definitely help us to survive. Healing is not allowing the damage to control our lives. It will help us to thrive. God bless you.

Sara, you are an amazing woman and an inspiration to so many! Your story is incredible, and the way you deliver it brings hope to the hopeless. You are a gem!

Thank you, also for the nomination, and your kind words.

~ Mona ♥️

Sara+Im says:

Mona, you are so sweet and kind. I am happy to know that people find hope and encouragement through my story.


Sara, WOW! Your story is grabs the heart in EVERY way! HOPE is definitely the very thing to hold onto when life deals us a “bad” hand. Your intention on seeing your family, of praying, of knowing God is with you, definitely is the way I hope I would turn if ever found in a difficult place. Your story is extremely powerful in SO many ways!! What a testimony to the power of God! HIS ways are not our ways!
Thank you for sharing your story!

Sara+Im says:

Stacey, how sweet and kind are your comments. Yes, our life is unpredictable, we never know when we will face another brick wall. Knowing what are some tips can be a big help. I appreciate you following my story and notice my advice. Yes, HOPE is a major one. God bless you Stacey.

Allison head says:

Beautiful story, and beautiful mission to encourage others to have hope-inspired by love and the will to survive❤️while we are struggling through difficult unknown times currently across the globe, I imagine Sara’s public speaking is much needed. To rid oneself of our own suffering, Sara reminds us through hers that suffering is often a choice, and our heart and faith is the one thing that keeps us to survive. Love for ourselves, and through the love for others…there is no greater existence. May we have a million Sara’s in this world🙏🏿thank you in bringing Sara’s story to us, Gary Rogers❤️

Sara+Im says:

Allison, Your comments make my heart smile. It is for people like yourself that encourage me to keep on sharing. We never know whose life we will touch so deeply. I am grateful for your beautiful complement. Thank you for really understanding the depth of my story and thank you for expressing your appreciation. God bless you my sweet friend.

James Barber says:

Wow! Amazing journey and testimony of faith, hope and love.

Very encouraged and challenged by your life. Praise be to God!

Sara+Im says:

Hi James,
I really appreciate your comment. Yes, during our life darkest days, we really need to look inside of ourselves to find the strength to help us get out from going under. Without Love, Hope and Faith, we cannot find enough strength to survive.
God bless you James!

I’m better for reading this story. What you’ve endured is unimaginable and yet you found strength in love, faith, hope, and releasing negativity. If you were able to thrive after that, I know that I can face anything with God’s help. Thank you for sharing your precious story!

Gary Rogers says:

Sara, thank-you so much for sharing your story, nominating 3 people who all want to share their story as well as sharing your encouraging comments with others. You are a good woman and I’m so glad that I’ve gotten to know you better. Your story gives people hope and though it was so hard on you and others (I can’t imagine), I know it will be encouraging for people that anything is possible, especially when they allow their Faith to carry them. Thanks again Sara and look forward to all you’ll be doing in the future. If I can help you in any way, please let me know. Thanks, Gary