In Memoriam

In Memoriam

Sabine Trannin passed away early this morning, at 7 AM.
She was twenty six and left us far before her time.

I heard the news at lunch time and came to her office. A space had been set up where small offerings could be made and incense was lit. Many staff and friends were there, sitting in small groups, some talking, others sitting quietly.

In a gathering like this people tread carefully, trying to show respect for the sorrow of others, carrying their own grief as best they can.

Some food was laid out, and I awkwardly gathered a plate. I found I had no sense of taste, no appetite. My stomach was knotted up like a fist. Still in a state of shock and disbelief, I simply wasn’t in the everyday world. A list was passed around so people could write their contact information for the funeral.

Living and working with Cambodians I’ve heard some tragic stories. They can emerge suddenly out of an ordinary conversation – a language lesson, a work discussion.
After, the speaker sometimes questions aloud how they manage to carry on.

It’s a rhetorical question. They answer themselves: Usually there’s a small pause – and an effort to get back to the world of ordinary life, the quotidian. The speaker changes the topic, or gets up to wash some dishes, or shuffles some papers and resumes work. Because they’re alive. By the simple actions they do, they carry on. The sum total of these can add up to extraordinary results.

Sabine had been director of Bophana Center for two years. Her enthusiasm and energy were infectious, and drew many others to become involved in its vital project of archiving, documentation and research. It was gratifying to see the organization rapidly develop from a concept to a three story center, full of busy staffers working on vital projects.

At about 2 PM a framed picture of her arrived for the memorial display. Somehow seeing the portrait verified it, validated what I didn’t want to believe. The familiar face was now not just an image but a record, an icon. She had entered the realm of history and documentation that she had strived to improve.

Twenty-six years is a short time to make a mark on the world.
But Sabine truly left a legacy. And those of us remaining in the world of the ordinary can show our affection, admiration, and respect by carrying this work forward. As demonstrated by our own small efforts, from day to day.

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5 Responses to “In Memoriam”

  1. Anonymous says:

    It grieves me that she left us at very young age. May her soul be in peace!

  2. Caroline GIRAUD says:

    My is Caroline and i’m a friend of Sabine from france. I just heard the news from another friend and I’m trying deseperately to find out what happened. Could you please contact me on

    Many thanks,

  3. Jinja says:

    Hello EA, I read your comment; I regret I don’t have all the details. More news will come soon.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Can anyone tell me what happened?
    I’m one of her former classmate and I can’t believe this horrible news…

    Thank you for answering.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’ve just heard the news and I am very choked. I cannot say I really knew her. I met her once in Paris at the Senate for watching “S21″. It was the first day of publication of her book “Les ONG occidentales au Cambodge”.

    She was so young. I’d like to know what happened.

    Sophinie Ong

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