Published May 05, 2014.
I write you this letter having never met you before.
Like so many others across the world I only came to know of you after your disappearance.
I consider this a great tragedy.
However, I also see it as representative of the importance of your work and all that you have achieved.
Even in your absence your ideas and values are reverberating around the globe and inspiring and influencing a new generation of young scholars, social activists, community development workers and anyone else who feels that we need to move beyond simplistic interpretations of economic growth as representative of social progress and people’s wellbeing.
For me personally, reading your biography and the circumstances of your disappearance on the Sombath.org website has been both uplifting and saddening.
It has been uplifting to read about how a man who came from humble beginnings in rural Laos became such an influential figure for participatory planning and development across Southeast Asia. It has been uplifting to see the power that education had on your life as a tool for upward social mobility, and it has been uplifting to see somebody who is truly committed to a holistic model for development putting their ideas into action.
Of course your story has also been deeply saddening. History has often been unkind to those who have expressed ideas that run contrary to the interests of elites and your disappearance appears to be another example of such injustice.
From the bottom of my heart I hope that you are well, and that you will return to us all soon.
You are deeply missed.