My name is Soksambath Nguon, and I am 19 years old. I come from the Banteay Meanchey province. I live in a big family without my beloved father, who passed away in 2014. My parents did all they could to provide every one of their children with the best education. Because we needed money, my father worked like a dog. He forgot to take care of himself. I regret that I never ever said the words “I love you, dad” to him. Our lives are not good, they are not easy, but we still fight for a brighter day. My eldest sister has graduated and now has a job, and my second eldest sister is a fourth-year student at a university in Phnom Penh. They are currently living together in a rented room in Phnom Penh. My eldest brother went to Thailand for a job, and my second eldest brother dropped out of university in his second year; he currently has a career in our hometown instead.
As a child, I worked hard and my brothers and sisters helped me a lot with my schoolwork. Thus, in the 6th grade, I passed a scholarship to study at an organization called Enfants du Mekong. There I could study many subjects, and I did not have to pay for extra studies with teachers at school. I finished my high school in 2016 and received a B grade. Nevertheless, I did not wish to stop my education, and I persisted in working to achieve a high degree at university. This led me to receive full scholarships from two different universities.
Currently, I study English literature and French education at the University of Cambodia and IFL institute. My mother was so happy and surprised with the good news. Unfortunately, my life in the city has had many issues regarding financial support. I have to depend on my sister because I am unemployed, but she is also in a difficult situation. So, I have to get by on a small amount of money in the city.
My sister told me that studying at university is not enough and that one needs to be exposed to the real world and join the society. She introduced me to the Advanced Centre for Empowerment (ACE), where I could build my soft skills, learn more about myself and develop a better lifestyle. I could find out how to help my society and myself.
First, I worked hard to paint the Rudi Boa Centre, which is one of ACE’s projects. It was fun and I felt incredibly fulfilled when I realized that I could help the children in this slum by creating a better environment for them at school. Then I went to the Young Leaders Centre and Wat Thann Heimberg Centre. I saw that the people who lived in these slums were in a tougher situation than my family. They are surrounded by dirt and trash in a tiny region that smells so bad. But I have a chance to help them through ACE. I am not rich, but I am able to assist them with the knowledge I acquire from school especially provide Khmer Tutoring Class. Now I know – I really love volunteer work.