Age: 20
From: Kampong Speu Orphanage Center
Major: International Relations
School: Paññasastra University

I was born in a small village, in Kampong Cham province. I didn’t spend much time with my family as a child. My father was a primary school teacher, and my mother was a farmer. They were all busy, and didn’t have time to take care of me. One of my sisters was adopted by a godmother so she didn’t live with us. My brother and older sister were with me at home, but they were young, and often in their own, carefree worlds. As time passed, my life kept changing. My parents didn’t have enough money to support us. When I was 9, my mother and my sister went to look for work in Phnom Penh city. My dad lost his job; he stopped teaching. Around the time that my mother left, I started working on a farm with a cousin of mine. Every day, I would go to school in the morning, and then go fishing, look after cows, and grow rice in the afternoon.

When I was ten, my parents moved me to an orphanage that my brother was in, in Kampong Speu province. They wanted us to have a chance to study until we could graduate high school. We couldn’t keep going to school if we stayed at home — my parents couldn’t afford it.

A new chapter of my life opened at the orphanage.  Sometimes, we cried when we missed home, but there was no one to turn to. We had only friends to rely on, only friends to help each other. But I don’t regret the experience, or feel bad for myself. I am proud that I’ve become strong enough to protect myself from loneliness and hopelessness. In addition, the orphanage gave me an education. I was there from grades 4 to 12, and I am grateful for the opportunity.

I finished high school, and now I’ve started a new beginning, with Global Children Cambodia. I learned of this organization from my time in the orphanage. It used to provide classes and supplies for the orphanage, in art, music and dance. It provided teachers and materials for learning and practicing traditional Cambodian dance. Now, Global Children supports my studying at university. Mr. Sovann came to my orphanage and gave us applications for the scholarship program. After that, I was selected. I am very happy here. I want to fulfill my dreams. I envision working in the U.S. embassy, and saving up money. And then, I can get to do what I really want: to open my own vegetarian restaurant.