"Sipar is a wonderful initiative" : meet our godmother, Marie Desplechin
Successful author in France but also in Cambodia thanks to her title Verte that we translated into Khmer in 2021, Marie Desplechin has been godmother of Sipar since 2014. She also co-authored the book Sothik, an autobiography of our director Sothik Hok in Cambodia, who grew up under the Khmer Rouge regime. Committed, she firmly believes in Sipar's mission and the importance of reading.
Sipar: When did you meet Sipar?
Marie Desplechin : In 2012, Suzanne Sevray told me about Sipar, brought me to Versailles and I loved the association. I arrived like that and then I quickly went to Cambodia to meet the teams and beneficiaries. I wasn't particularly looking to get involved in an association, Sipar just crossed my path.
Sipar: Why did you agree to become a godmother?
MD : I was a teenager in the 70s and I remember being fascinated by the arrival of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, thinking, with a teenage vision, that it was a revolution for the people by the people. But after the fall of Phnom Penh, we heard nothing more about Cambodia. When I heard all the horrors that happened, I thought, "If I have the opportunity to do something for them, then I will do it." Within my family, we also gravitated a little around Cambodia so this link has always been there.
Sipar: What do you have in common with the association?
MD : I am a youth author and I really believe in the power of transmission, in the power of making society, making humanity together. Sipar it's a really generous thing, it's a know-how that is transmitted, we train, we give keys to people. The team on site is 100% Khmer and that for me was important, that it is the Khmers who invest in the development of their country.
And then, of course, the book. We are not going to make the revolution by learning to read but it is a tool of happiness, enrichment, openness to others that transcends cultures and continents. The book is the reader who does it in his head, it is he who makes it with his images. Giving away a book is really the best you can do.
Sipar: Tell us about your collaboration with Sothik
MD : I met Sothik the first time I came to Cambodia, he picked me up at the airport. Busy traffic in the streets of Phnom Penh, Sothik begins to tell me about his childhood under the Khmer Rouge. He then told me that he should write a book one day but that he did not have time. Then I do my activities in Cambodia, writing workshops among others and I visit the different projects of the association, we do not see much with Sothik. On the eve of leaving, after three weeks in Cambodia, I propose to Sothik to co-write this book. On went back and forth like that for about a year until publication. I knew it was going to be good, it's a bit like Tom Sawyer who tells his adventures. It works very well with children and then above all it ends well.
Sipar : Sothik is also available in French but also in Khmer, like your book Verte that we translated within our publishing house. How does it feel to think that Khmer children discover your literature?
MD : I'm obviously very proud. The translation was done at the initiative of the Phnom Penh team and I hope that Khmer children like to meet this world of the invisible which is also very present in Cambodia. Cambodia is not a great country of reading because of its history, and I am happy if I can also contribute to reading. That's why I love Sipar, it's a wonderful initiative.