Synoeun is an endured teenager who had been living in one of the poorest communities ‘White Building’ in Phnom Penh for over 12 years, pushing her out of school for two years. She decided to work very hard in the garment factory to support her family’s financial crisis, while always praying to god that she would have the opportunity to return to school once again. Fortunately, she managed to attain her aim and graduated high school successfully, and worked as a cleaner to support her studies and her mother’s conditions. Her life started to change after attending leadership and training courses instructed by her teacher, Saing Sokchea, and received a scholarship that allows her to stay in a scholarship within Advanced Centre for Empowerment (ACE), and were subsequently promoted as a project officer.
She started a new life as the first resident in ACE and has a challenging, yet rewarding opportunity to learn and work. Synoeun expressed her feelings saying:
“There are many things that I am happy to learn and practice: English, writing reports and newsletters, using the computer and internet as well as learning to work in a team and improving my communication skills. I want to improve ACE so that it can help many more people.”
Being trained as a potential leader prior to leaving ACE as a project manager lead to achieving scholarships to Thailand, Myanmar, and USA for professional and academic purposes. She currently works with ACE’s partner organization, Empowering Youth in Cambodia (EYC), as a Youth Coordinator and Education Program Team Leader. She also attends PUC for her BA in Media Communication. She added, “I am always proud of being a part of ACE because it is a place that transformed
me from a student with limited knowledge, experience, and skill to be someone with high leadership and management experiences as well as technical and social skill since ACE is a place to build young leaders. In fact, I do become a leader when I leave ACE.”
Raksmey comes from a village in Pursat province in a peasant nuclear family of 8 members. Having only old-torn suits for school, Raksmey didn’t have adequate necessities such as food and clothing. Holding strong aspirations to be a counselor in Cambodia, and a dream to help his relatives and unprivileged youths in the community, Raksmey made a tremendous effort to gain a scholarship to study Social Work at the Royal University of Phnom Peng. Throughout his journey, he faced many difficulties such as finding proper accommodation, and money to purchase meals and bicycle parking fee.
After achieving a scholarship to ACE, Raksmey changed his attitude and was keener on gaining as much experience in leadership, communication, teamwork and society. He aspired to be a good role model for Cambodian youths, and to impart his learning into practice. Initially working as a Centre Coordinator, Raksmey was soon made a Volunteer Treasurer and Secretary of Rotaract Club of Phnom Penh Metro. He later accepted more opportunities to be involved in team management and youth activities organizations as a supervisor.
After leaving ACE, he received Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s Scholarship to study M.A program in Human and Social Development in the Faculty of Liberal Arts, Prince of Songkla University (Thailand). He successfully graduated and presented his thesis on Cambodian Slums, two full-published papers and one proceeding in International Conference. “I remain indebted to brothers, sisters and all my beloved friends in ACE for their support, encouragement and motivate me most all the time to achieve my goal. We has too much difference identity, but we have the same aim to be a good young leader in Cambodia that why we can lived, worked and sharing our value to each other. I love ACE wish you all success as ace’s family, gratefully”
“Son you have to try hard because I want to see you with a bright future not as a farmer like me! Said Vantha’s mother.” This inspirational speech from his parents made this Svay Rieng youth fight all obstacles in urban life. Vantha studied NGO Management in the Build Bright University, however, was poorly supported by his parents who had to work extremely hard to sustain both him and his brother’s university fees. Given opportunities to studied free English at Aziza school, he began to know about ACE, and it was offered a scholarship on accommodation. He eventually became one of the DLTC residents at ACE which he had long hoped for.
He experienced deep melancholy when his mother unfortunately passed away in 2009. The Leadership Program, however, soon became his second home and motivated him to work harder to achieve his dreams and to understand the essence of life. Vantha stated, “Although sometimes I feel upset and tired, I would always think about my future and my goal. I would always remind myself that life is hopefulness! Currently I have been
given a brilliant opportunity to be a project manager at Rudi Boa Centre while I am only 20 years old. I could not have achieved this much without the support from ACE”.
After leaving DLTC, Vantha searched for appropriate jobs to support him within an acknowledged school. Initially starting as an Administration assistant, Vantha currently works as a logistic officer within the Australian Centre for Education (ACE).
“Without all of you I would be married, working in the rice field, factory and I wouldn’t be able to go to university as I don’t have a place to stay in the city, said Chakrya.” Born in Kep province, Chakrya endured the immense pressures of living and studying with a hearing impairment and was mocked in school. In grade 10, Chakrya became an active member of the Chamcar Bei Youth Club, which she gained a great deal of knowledge and earnings to support her study. She unfortunately was forced to get married in grade 11 out of her will. With intervention from her mother, Chakrya could pursue her study until finishing high school. She was asked to help her family, however, for a year prior to attending university in Phnom Penh, which she could pass two scholarships – BAB scholarship to study in college, the ACE Dormitory scholarship, which would provide her a convenient residence within the city.
Her struggling life in DLTC was alleviated through accommodation, leadership development courses and practical skills trainings that empowered her. After three months, she was recruited to be an English teacher at Rudi Boa Centre located 22km away from Phnom Penh. Being very tough, Chakrya discovered the joys of helping and educating children to be a highly rewarding one. She was promoted to a project manager in an ACE program in the Rudi Boa Centre.
After leaving ACE, Chakrya worked in many different areas including education, social work and private sectors. She later moved to Siem Reap in September 2013 where she was initially employed as a HR Officer at PACTICS Cambodia, where she was promoted to a HR Manager.
Chakrya added, “I really liked ACE as a place where I could stay, learn and practice what I want to be. I found most people who left ACE became independent and ready to face the challenges of life and work in the real society. So ACE is a great place to build your future!”
Phary was raised by a single-parent family in the motherland of Siem Reap province. Her mother became the breadwinner after her divorce, and ran a small business to sustain the family of 5. Without a father, Phary and her family worked diligently to support her education until she graduated high school and passed a psychology scholarship from Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP). Moving to Phnom Penh to pursue her bachelor’s degree, she discovered Advanced Centre for Empowerment and its dormitory scholarship program. She later applied for the scholarship and received the amazing opportunity to stay in ACE – a huge change from sharing a small room with her four roommates.
After passing DLTC, she learnt how to work and assist illiterate individuals, particularly children living in slums. What she found satisfying about ACE was it’s values, discipline and mutual respect throughout the cohort. “During staying in this dormitory, I have improved my English, leadership, communication, team work and time management from a lot of experienced speakers, said Phary”
Phary also expressed her contemporary life and said “I am currently doing my diploma of accounting in Bridge Business College in Australia and also working as an administrator and student support officer for my college. Lastly, I would love to thank ACE and the donors for being such an incredible foundation for us.”
Being the eldest son of a 6-sibling family at the countryside of Kandal Province, Sotherara’s dream to pass grade C in Bac II examination came true – considered as a great triumph for a rural student. This achievement offered him a chance to study Khmer Literature with a scholarship at RUPP. Adapting to the new environment in the capital city of Phnom Penh may be difficult for rural comers, though Sothera embraced this challenge and faced all obstacles and hardships. One day, he was invited to participate in the Attitude Forum program with Sokchea Saing, which was a valuable opportunity for him to pass DLTC scholarship in ACE.
“Staying at DLTC has given me so many prospects in life. I have learnt so many things from other scholarship students as well as get a chance to integrate with the other people in different nationalities; we have shared various ideas with each other. We help each other cook and have meals together. DLTC empowers us to be able to join in various trainings, to have fate in ourselves, to become brilliant potential leaders and most prominently the provision of opportunities for us to contribute in helping developing our community and overall Cambodia!”
After leaving ACE, Sotheara had been involved in many endeavors. He initially worked as a lecturer for students in the Royal University of Phnom Penh for two years. Sotheara then started to run his own small business and spent most his time improving it to grow his brand. One of his two business include a tutoring service, while his other business, Bropey Mongkul, assists clients in wedding organization defense.
“Without ACE, I and my other friends who used to live together there may not have the opportunities to work in many good organizations or starting business like today. I hope that the youth who have been trained by ACE will have a bright future. Thank you so much ACE and thankful to all donors who always care and supporting us.”
Born in an underprivileged family in Prey Veng province, Sokheng had a goal to grow the root of education. He devoted his life in studying within a poor school far away from his residence. In order to sustain the family, his mother sold Khmer cakes in the village. Although his passion of studying in university allowed him to pass grade 12, he was not able to continue tertiary education and worked instead to support his family. Arriving in Phnom Penh, he worked as a construction worker, his brother and sister supported his classes at the Royal University of Law and Economics but it was not enough He soon heard about the dormitory scholarship offered by ACE, and was invited to join the Attitude Forum where be passed both the interview and ability test.
A chance to learn more and live better was soon discovered after achieving the ACE dormitory scholarship. He expanded his knowledge by helping, sharing and learning with his fellow ACE residents who were close like brothers and sisters. Sokheng was eventually made the Law Volunteer Trainer and project assistant of an ACE program.
He said, in hobbies I do physical exercise, reading books, news events, history, other law documents, and also English to build and develop my knowledge. In a head only goal that I want to study abroad are Public Policy and International Relationship in short, to begin with I would like to extend my profound gratitude to all donator who always spend energy and time to give generous gift to us without thinking its big burden. I have no anything back but I have merely try study hard, hard working and does everything make my life success. Now, I am a Deputy Director in office working as an assistant dean for the college of Law at University of Cambodia.
Living in the Takeo province where his parents sold street-food to raise four children, Channak strived to finish high school and to continue his studies in Cambodian Mekong University with a dream to be a renowned engineer while studying in Japan. It was very challenging to live in an urban area in Phnom Penh, having rented a small monthly 20-dollar room with four other youths who also struggled financially. He lost concentration in his studies and wasted time going out with no genuine plans, and had poor disciplines in life like a firefly. Things soon changed for the better after he became a scholarship resident of ACE.
“ACE Dormitory and Leadership Training Centre (DLTC) is the best place where I had never been before, said Channak.” He enjoyed learning through numerous critical trainings, and started to develop key skills to be a good, well-disciplined individual with a clear goal for the future. He became more confident with himself and his actions.
While staying in ACE, he made many good friends from different provinces who shared a common goal to expand ACE into a bigger family to help many disadvantaged youths, and to provide them adequate accommodation for them to study in the city for a promising future. After graduating in his school, he passed a scholarship to study Master degree program in China. After leaving ACE and its leadership programs, Channak received a scholarship at Guizhou University, where he majors in Structure Engineering.