Meet Our Residents:

Roth Vannda

photo1679640238My name is Vannda. I am turning 23 years old this year (2022), and I was born on the outskirts of a rural area in Preah Vihear province. In my family, there are 5 siblings which consist of two sisters and three brothers, including myself, and I am the second child in the family. I am now a senior student, majoring in General Management, at Preah Sihamoniraja Buddhist University.

My parents are identified as the Kui indigenous and reside in a tribe community in Boss Thom Village, Prame Commune, Tbeng Meanchey District, remote from the town. My parents manage a rice farm in order to support the whole household. After the Khmer regime, my parents have endured and surpassed working as just farmers. They often work overload and take chances looking for other non-timber forest products in order to manage financial expenses in our family. Our living condition was very bad yet we were also grateful for what we had and where we were.

After my high school graduation in late 2019, I commenced deciding to pursue my university in Phnomvannda Penh with my siblings who had also once had their life journey denied by my parents. Furthermore, my parents were not happy to support my decision because they had certainly known that they would face financial difficulties in supporting me far from their watch. They allowed me to go once my brother told them that he would secure my safety and daily expenses. I only once had financial support from my parents for about 25 USD for transportation from my hometown to have a new life journey in Phnom Penh.  During that time, I had to stay in a dorm with integrated indigenous people from various provinces in Cambodia. I was supported with free accommodation by the Cambodia Indigenous Youth Association (CIYA) for about three months. My sister and I were covered by my brother for daily expenses such as school supplies, meals, and other spending requirements. While he managed his study at the university, my brother also endured the immense pressure of working from the evening till early morning as a full-time security guard with a salary of 200 USD per month in order to support all our studies. We met a lot of difficulties that led us to barely eat regular meals each day. Sometimes, we ate three times per day and sometimes two. Then, from month-to-month, it was even worst, particularly for the farming and harvesting season. My parents always faced financial crisis while managing their farm because they didn’t have any other job support. They took out a bank loan and my brother started to get discouraged.

v2            After that, I started searching for a company or restaurant where I could find work. I got a job as a part-time waiter at a restaurant for about two months while staying at CIYA. I also had to volunteer for CIYA as a community service that focused on advocating, territory defense, and human rights. With this volunteer opportunity, I had some time to visit the local community in the rural area where I found such dilemmas that were difficult for me to endure. Thus, I started searching for another place that could offer me more opportunities and support. I found ACE where my brother’s close friend, Sophany, was also staying. I decided to apply and it was my first time ever getting interviewed. I was a little bit nervous and shaky during the interview session.

I now have been staying at ACE for almost four years and I have noticed how remarkably I have changed from who I was 20 years ago. I lived in a remote rural area, an indigenous community, which has such a poor education standard. People, including our family, have very low living conditions. People there have very little opportunity and don’t have proper paid jobs. They lack skills, health and hygiene education, economic & political understanding, and social comprehension. Now, I started to realize that people should be exposed to the outside world instead of just residing in one place waiting for an opportunity to come. ACE has been providing me with many opportunities through weekly leadership and life-skill training courses that I can apply to real life situations. Furthermore, I love volunteering to help the community, which has offered me such golden knowledge and opportunities to boost my leadership and understanding.

v3Last but not least, I would like to extend my gratitude and thankfulness to ACE for always supporting, training, and empowering me for the past three years and on. Without your kind support, I would not be who I am today.

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