I WOULD HAVE LOST MY SIGHT IF NOT FOR MR LENG
I will never forget that. Read Trai Vet's ODA story below
BUT FIRST A COVID UPDATE
All level students wear their school uniform each day to ensure they focus as they would at school. Like parents globally, Leng watches over them to help when needed.
COVID UPDATE Lockdown has been lifted for the Pchumb Ben Celebration time but will likely be closed again after that time. Double vaccination levels are very high in Cambodia from 12 years up and now they are beginning to vaccinate 3 to 11 year old’s in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and other cities and villages will follow after that is completed. The authorities have staged a very efficient rollout. Like everywhere, Delta is still proving a challenge, but the vaccines seem to be making most infections not quite so serious. Leng still has the residential students in lockdown but as the internet is available there at most times, they are able to study online. Between Khmer studies which cover some 12 subjects, plus ODA English, Art, Computer, and Khmer Culture classes, so they are quite busy. After the study, all students tend the farm learning how to grow food for when they graduate from ODA and need to live an individual and very different life. This gives them physical work and a focus for their study free time so they don’t feel the lockdown too badly.
This photo was taken when I was about to start my Civil Engineering at university
MY LIFE JOURNEY IS SO FAR FROM MY REMOTE VILLAGE
THAT FLOODED EVERY WET SEASON.
That was good for growing rice, but we couldn’t get out again until the end of the rains.
My name is Trai Vet and this is my story of care, education, life, and dream opportunities through Leng and the ODA Residential School. My younger brother Trai Van and I lived with our parents in a small remote village. Life was hard and we worked in fields with our mother and father to grow rice to eat. My village hears about work in Thailand so our parents say they must go search for work there. Other villagers and some youths make plans to go too.
My Father hears about Mr. Leng and ODA so he asks if he can leave my brother and me there for a few months while they go to find work. It was about 2003 and I was 12 and Trai Van was 11.
The first time leaving my family I do feel scared and miss them very much but after Leng talk to me a lot I was then ok, at that time then it seem a lot like my village life. He spent time with us and gave us Art lessons and we learn to paint very well. He is a good kind man and teacher, not just in Art but in how to live your life as a good human. His wife Sry On was also very kind and make us feel like family at home. It is also quite normal in Cambodia to leave the family for education.
Early at ODA, I got a big problem with both my eyes and it look like I would lose my eyesight. I am very grateful to Leng as he take me to the Angkor Hospital for Children many times and they managed to fix it so I never have problems again to this day. This happens to children in Cambodia and they lose one or both eyes, so I remember to this day how kind Leng takes care of me and makes sure my eyes are repaired.
Creating Art in the Angkor Temples is a very special atmosphere we felt close to Ancestors
Leng taught us all a wide range of art and sculpture traditional and modern
Leng took us to temples and teach us about painting in oil and watercolor, to carve statues and we learn from him all about the history of the temples. I do feel very close to my ancestor when start carving Budha statue and other art style and Leng help me. I did great at art and then I wanted to be an Artist.
We are so lucky to live there and be able to see and hear all this about our ancestors. Many Cambodians never can get to visit the Angkor Wat, even a small bus fare they no can afford.
Mr. Leng found a 2nd hand school uniform and an old bike for me and I ride 1 hour to secondary school. I ride home at lunch and then back for the afternoon lesson. I help Leng and Sry On with other small students who live at ODA too.
When I studying I do enjoy learning carvings and painting. I used to carving Budha statues and other Khmer art styles and painting oil colors and watercolors. When not at school or university we create art in the temples and sell to tourist to help get food and pay school book for us all.
When I finish High School I am very lucky with a kind USA family who helps Leng to send older ODA students to the university. I was the first one to do that. By then I want to study Civil Engineering as my father works in building in Thailand. I feel very grateful to the USA family for me, my young brother Traivan, and other ODA’s teachers have graduated from University because of them. I wish I see more poor youth families have the opportunity for a university like us. They are very very kind and come to do teacher training one time too. Big Big Thanks and God bless all their family.
I now work with a Siem Reap builder and help him manage some construction sites
Never did I dream I would work some building exciting projects like this
I am very lucky I have so many opportunities through ODA
. A kind group who help Leng over some years say they will send him and me to Malaysia to join their Leadership Classes. I never fly before so it is very scary but really good, and we learn a lot about leading and teamwork. It is very interesting to meet people from many countries and hear their life stories too. This gives me the confidence to talk to strangers and helps me be what I am today.
Kind Swiss man Ruedi comes to ODA 2 times a year for a long time and teaches ODA boys how to build bunks for bedrooms, cupboards for the kitchen, and many other good buildings we learn from him. He makes us work perfectly. I work with him every time he comes and learns many things. He tells me I study German he will take me to Switzerland for 3 months for Construction and Architecture Observation and training. I study German for a year and talk to tourists in Siem Reap who speak German and practice a lot, but when I arrive there I speak less than a kindergarten child. But everyone was very kind to me there and I learn much more there.
I fly all the way and it is very exciting and scary to change planes in big airports. Ruedi meet me in Zurich and I live with him and his mother outside the city while I study there. Its is wintertime and very very cold for me outside but Ruedi and friends give me a warm jumper and a warm coat and I am too busy to be too cold.
In Switzerland, I observe and train on some very big construction sites for 3 months
I watch and write everything they do and how they do it to take back to Siem Reap with me
Where I work and observe is a long way from where I live so I am away early and back late but Reudi and his mother take me to many places at weekends. It is a very beautiful country and like a picture everywhere you look.
The Swiss company has very strong work safety and rules and everyone works very good level. I learn so much and some things are
New tool for digital design (ArchiCAD Program)
They are very focusing on what they do with strong responsivity (Safe job).
I want to work like this when back in Siem Reap
Lifestyle I see very different in Switzerland
Rockclimbing and having fun, 'Moving Mountains' with Reudi in Switzerland
I use CAD program to draw plans and then work with Leng to build ODA No 7 school. We create outdoor covered area for kindergarten activity at this school, afternoons are very hot inside. It work well so we add it to other ODA schools. I had to get permission from Build Bright University to be away for the 3 month to travel to Switzerland, and I have to make that time up when I got back. In my University course I have to do work experience so I help Reudi to build ODA kitchen, I do plans and build No 7 ODA School with Leng, build local hospital roof and much ODA school maintenance. I also work with a Siem Reap builder and managed 3 of his work sites. I like that very much as I can do there much of what I see in Switzerland. Back at ODA I wake up at 5:30 am in the morning and ready to drive ODA student to school in the mini bus that kind US NGO Go Philanthropic and their very kind man had funded for ODA students. Then I go to my work and at 11:30 am I pick students up and take back to ODA. Then I back to my work again. My work break at 5:00 pm and I back to ODA to do more study. I happy to help Leng with student like I was, and I was still live at ODA so it family and home to me.
This my proud family. Trai Van who graduated IT through ODA is 2nd on left with his wife, and I am 2nd on right. My other two younger brother are mechanic and electrician and they have good job also. Our mother and Father very proud of us all.
My dream when I came to ODA was to be a good artist like Leng. But after all my lucky education and I work with Reudi at ODA, I want to be a Civil Engineer and build good buildings. I am now graduated from University and live in Siem Reap where I work as a site supervisor and one day I will run my own Construction company and make good employment and training work for other Khmer people. I finish my sites now and Covid Delta Virus stop new construction, so no work for me for a month, we hope no longer.
My parents now older and live back in Cambodia and are so proud of me and my brother Traivan and other brother too. They said they are so lucky to have such good and clever son like me and my brother. They are give big big thanks to Leng who direct us in good way to be good people and get good education and get a good job. They can’t believe that I be able to fly and do training at Switzerland and now work as a site supervisor.
I can’t believe I am now an Engineer..
Leng and Srey On are now my second parents. I really appreciate and so proud of them. They care about my future. I and the kids I grow up with at ODA in 17 years there, have changed and learn so much from them both. I had graduated with excellent skill and I have job and I will be able to support my own life.
I thank my parents for give me life.
Thank Leng and Sry On for being my second parents.
I want thank everyone who help Leng over the years to give me and others education opportunities we never dream we could have.
Some very very special people, but also so many of you who help Leng to keep helping kids who want to make better lives.
We student are so very lucky for your kind help.
We not be where we are without you all.