Many years ago we were in Cambodia and heard about a poor village where quite a few of the children did not have clothes. We went out there with a van full of clothing and met with the local villagers and they were happy to receive clothes for their children.
While chatting and fitting kids in outfits a woman came up to us and pushed her daughter froward and said that her daughter could speak english. The daughter did not look happy, however she started to speak english to us and we were quite astounded at how well she spoke. Apparently there had been a woman in the area that taught a few kids english for a awhile. Sopeak rode her bike a long distance to learn. We asked her if she would like to continue to learn english and she shyly said yes; that was the beginning of a long relationship. Her family worked hard to make a meager living. Dad worked at a factory in another province and sent his salary home..he lived at the factory most of the year. Mom raised a cow and grew a garden and they worked very hard to feed their family.
Sopeak moved on to a better english school and rode her bike hours to and from extra classes as well as attending high school. After passing grade 12, the top of her class, in the government school K.I.D.S sponsored her to live in the city and attend a better english school as well as University. While in the city we found out that she had hearing problems and took her to an NGO where they told us she had lived with terrible ear infections and was mostly deaf in one ear. After medication and a hearing aide she could hear much better. Sopeak was top of her class in english and all her classes even though she was mostly deaf for a very long time...she had never been to a restaurant, driven in a car or seen a city and yet she managed to live in a small room and ride her bike to attend university and english school. Sopeak excelled in all her subjects.
Sopeak will soon graduate with a degree in accounting and english, she works part time teaching english at an NGO and both her sisters have lived with her in the city and now have good jobs, they all help their parents, who were able to build a decent house. While we were in Siem Reap this past winter Sopeak got engaged and recently married in her village, her husband also has a good job as a tour guide.
This is the story of one girl who persevered to live a better life. Her future is bright and so is her families thanks to a chance meeting, hard work and the generosity of all of you. We now sponsor many more young people like Sopeak and it is inspiring to see them following in her foot steps and changing their futures, the future of their families, communities and their country.
All the very best,
Adrianne, Rick and Sopeak