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Becoming part of the community – the Aussie who wants to be a Cambodian Citizen

Khy Sovuthy / Khmer Times Share:
Caleb Maddocks stands at attention with his Khmer colleagues in Kantrak village. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Caleb Maddocks is an Australian citizen who has lived in Cambodia for decades after first arriving with his family in Siem Reap province in 1992. Still living in the same village today, Mr Maddocks yearns to become a Cambodian citizen, but has settled for work as a local security guard as a way to contribute to the community.

Caleb Maddocks is an Australian national living in Siem Reap province’s Siem Reap city, where he has lived over two decades and now works as a security guard in Kantrak village.

Mr Maddocks, 30, says he first came to live in Cambodia in 1992, when his family uprooted their lives and settled down in the village, which is part of Svay Dangkum commune.

He says his father, Tim Maddocks, 55, at the time took a position with Adventist Development and Relief Agency to manage a rice crop improvement project in the province. He adds that his father served in the position until the December 1995.

In 1996, Mr Maddocks says his parents went on to manage a local church in the village, where the family continued to live. He says he is the eldest of two siblings and has a younger brother named Shannon.

The family lived in the church compound, which spans 19 hectares.

Now, his father is the principal of Kantrak Adventist School and chief executive officer of Butterfly Paradise, while his mother, Wendy Maddocks, 54, is a volunteer teacher at the school.

Mr Maddocks says he and his family can speak fluent Khmer and often participate in community activities in the village.

His Cambodian friends and local authorities eventually encouraged him to work as a village security guard, which also allows him to protect the local church where he grew up.

“I’ve worked as a security guard in the village for more than a year now,” Mr Maddocks says. “Since I started working as a security guard in the village, I’ve worked at wedding parties and funerals.”

He says he wanted to work as a security guard because he wanted to help protect the village and the church.

“I decided to work as a security guard in the village because I want to help protect the village and the church,” Mr Maddocks says.

He notes that security in the village is relatively good. However, there are the occasional cases of stealing.

Mr Maddocks says he has appealed to senior authorities to provide additional equipment and uniforms for the village security guards.

“Our security guards still lack handcuffs, uniforms and light batons to use at night when assisting motorbike and car drivers to park when there are ceremonies,” he says.

Mr Maddocks says in 2015 he married Kroich Savan, 28, who also works at the local church. The couple now has a daughter and they also live in the church compound.

He adds that he wants to become a Cambodian citizen but that he does not have enough money to apply for a citizenship.

“I want to apply to become a Cambodian citizen but I don’t have enough money and I am also not sure about the conditions to become a Cambodian citizen,” he says.

He notes that he has spent most of his life in Cambodia, save for several years he spent back in Australia, where he studied university for one year, and studied IT for another year, and an additional year studying airplane repairs.

Ros Bunvorn, Kantrak village chief, confirms that Mr Maddocks started working as a village security guard in 2018.

“We welcomed him to work as a village security guard because most people do not want to work as a village security guard,” Mr Bunvorn says. “He wanted to help protect the village and church.”

He notes that he discussed the matter with the commune chief and commune police chief.

“I asked the commune chief and commune police chief about allowing him to work as a village security guard, and they allowed Caleb to work,” Mr Bunvorn says.

He notes that he has known Mr Maddocks since he was a child.

Mr Bunvorn adds that there are 23 village security guards overseeing 275 families that live in the village. He also says that the security guards needed more equipment in order to be able to perform better.

“I have requested senior authorities to provide uniform or some money to us because we don’t have the funds,” he says.

Hea Hav, Svay Dangkum commune chief, says Mr Maddocks has lived in the area for decades, noting that he attended Sambou Primary School in the village when he was young.

“No one forced him to work as a village security guard but he volunteered himself because he wanted to protect the village and church,” Mr Hav says. “He is a good person and well-behaved.”

He also notes that the Maddocks family has contributed to the community generously since they arrived in the 1990s, adding that they have never gotten into an argument with other villagers.

“My opinion is that I support Caleb and his family to become Cambodian citizens, if they wanted to, because they have helped Cambodians a lot for a long time now,” Mr Hav says, while noting that the decision remains up to the government.

Cham Ratanak, 38, head of the village security guards, says he supported Mr Maddocks’s choice to become a security guard because he was a good person with a good behaviour.

“He is just like any other village security guard because he can speak Khmer fluently,” Mr Ratanak says.

Echoing others on the need for better equipment, Mr Ratanak also notes the shortage of tools experienced by the security guards. He adds that the group also lacked money to buy gasoline for the motorbikes they use for work.

“Please don’t look down on us, but help us to protect our village,” he says.


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