Rent Collector Author Presents to Sophomore English

Madi Lowe and Christian Cox

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“The Rent Collector”, written by local author, Camron Wright, is required reading for all Murray sophomores.

On Friday, April 6, Wright and his son Trevor, filmmaker and Murray seminary teacher, came to talk to the sophomores about their experiences with writing the book and filming a documentary about life in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge regime.

The Rent Collector is about a mother named Sang Ly, and her family, who live in a place that you wouldn’t expect, and are just trying to survive day by day.

The family lives in a garbage dump in southern Cambodia named Stung Meanchey. Not only does this family have to worry about what is going on around them economically, Sang Ly has a son, Nisay, who is deathly ill with a virus and doctors are unsure as to what it is and how to cure it.  

With her son being sick, Sang Ly decides she will no longer be illiterate and takes lessons from her rent collector, Sopeap.  By doing so, she increases her chance of helping her family survive the harsh world that is Cambodia.

Tevor Wright served an LDS mission in Cambodia where he lived for two years. After his mission, he returned to Cambodia and filmed a documentary about Sang Ly’s life.

“When I went to Stung Meanchey,” he said, “I stepped in the dump and you could feel the garbage squishing and actually smell the stink from the garbage.”

In reality, Sang has two children and a husband, but Wright chose to tell the story in a different perspective.  He chose to take out one of her children for story telling purposes which puts focus on the more hard hitting parts of the story.

Trevor’s father, Camron, was inspired by his son’s story and turned the events from the movie into the 2012 Book of the Year Gold Winner, “The Rent Collector”.

In their presentation to Murray students, Trevor talked about how spoiled Americans are compared to people who live in Cambodia and that many things like food, shelter, money, electricity, etc. are taken for granted.

Trevor remarked, “I walked into my pantry one day and we had a full pantry full of food, and I thought to myself, ‘why do we need all this food? Who will eat all of this?”

Trevor and Camron still keep in touch with Sang Ly and her family. In fact, they visited her a few years ago and gave her family a moped so they could make money driving people around, about $6.50 everyday.

Before the moped, her family made about $2.50 a day picking up garbage and could barely afford one meal per day.

Another visit to Cambodia revealed that the moped given to the Ly family had been sold. When Wright was asked why they would sell the moped he responded by saying, “Nine out of 10 times when when you offer a Cambodian in poverty one dollar today vs twenty dollars tomorrow, they will take the one dollar because they are unsure about their future-it’s just their mentality.” 

Overall, the presentation showed that we should not take things for granted and we should be appreciative of what we have.

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