My name is Tab Kay, I’m 20 years old, and I was born in the province of Siem Reap in the Lolai hamlet of the Bakong commune. In my family there are 3 sisters, 3 brothers, and myself. I am the youngest kid in the family and live with my farmer mother Khun Barang, a 53-year-old widow. I’m a first-year student in the Department of Mathematics at the Royal University of Phnom Penh right now. I had a lot of challenges as a poor student moving to Phnom Penh to pursue a career that I have loved and enjoyed since I was a young kid. Phnom Penh is an expensive city, and having living expenditures that include the cost of education as well as other costs like materials, it was difficult having only one widow as a breadwinner. Given our income from my mother, I knew that she wouldn’t be able to finance it if I asked her to continue my studies in Phnom Penh.
As a result, I considered numerous options to enable me to attend Phnom Penh for academic purposes because, when I was in high school, instructors would often advise all students to attend school there. As luck would have it, I applied when I saw ACE—officially known as the Advanced Center for Empowerment—announcing the admission of students for free housing in Phnom Penh to finish my studies there. In addition to earning an NIE degree to become a high school teacher, I also plan to take the scholarship test in order to study abroad, possibly in Korea or Vietnam. I will persevere and work until I reach my goal of bringing a doctorate degree from abroad to my mother, teachers, and brothers and sisters, regardless of the repercussions. I learned a lot while living at ACE from Sister Ratana and Mr. JC, who put in a lot of effort to teach all of the students there. I can say that ACE has changed me almost completely in terms of words, gestures, habits of living together, and especially social work. It was an unforgettable experience for me. Last but not least, I would like to express my gratitude to Mr. JC and all of you for giving me the chance to remain at ACE and continue my studies in Phnom Penh. I offer you nothing in return, other than my gratitude and ten fingers.