Sambo Phon was born in Cambodia in 1966. Along with her parents, four sisters, and brother, she survived the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, during which she was forced to work in a labor camp for three years. Although she was only ten years old when her family was separated to different labor sites, Phon would sacrifice one of her meals every day in order to give her parents an extra portion—this meant running several miles to meet them during her break, and then surviving off of discarded food scraps and sugarcane. After three years of labor, Phon and her family were able to escape to the border between Thailand and Cambodia, where she married her (now former) husband. Eventually, she and her family immigrated to the United States in 1991. She and her former husband opened up donut shops at multiple locations in Texas, but unfortunately, Phon suffered two strokes and was no longer able to work. She faced a difficult recovery in the hospital and needed to go through physical therapy, but she had the support of her daughter, Bre, and grandchildren (one granddaughter and one grandson). Because Phon owed money due to opening the donut shops, Bre agreed to take over the donut shop and pay off her mother’s debt—now, Phon is grateful to finally be financially free. Additionally, she helped to raise her granddaughter, and as a result, shares a deep bond with her. Phon believes that her granddaughter’s love is the reason she is still here today.
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