When I was young most village homes were made of palm thatch like the one in the back. And most were on stilts as the land floods in the wet season.
The reason my mother and father went to Thailand to search for work was there was no work for them around our village. Because of the family situation, they decide to leave my brother and I with our grandmother. We lived with our grandmother for 2 years before it too hard for her and we come to ODA to have an education. We lived in a very remote village in Kampong Chhnang Province and our father really wanted us to be educated and then grow into good persons. He knew living in a remote village had no way to educate us and he wanted us to live somewhere that we could become educated. He heard about ODA and asked Mr Leng if we could come there for a time while they went to Thailand trying to find work.
Mr Leng taught us all art and around our school classes we sold them in the Temples to tourists. He is a very good art teacher and we all learnt well.
At ODA my brother and I were so happy to attend school and learn many skills with Mr Leng and his wife and become part of the ODA family. ODA was very different then and Mr Leng and us older students painted and sold our art in the temples around our school classes. Most days we sold enough to buy rice to feed the younger kids at ODA and ourselves. With Mr Leng we also had to try to sell more to buy school uniforms and books so all of us could attend. Mr Leng is a qualified art teacher and he taught all the kids to paint in our free time. We loved this very much and were happy sitting around painting and talking together as siblings. Like in a family everyone helps in any way they can, and these skills helped us to help Mr Leng to make us all be able to have food and get educated. ODA changed me a lot and now I am educated, with a Degree in IT and know how to be working hard, be kind to others, and share my skills with so many lucky students in the free ODA village schools.
It was such a proud day for me to graduate from university, when I was young in my village, I never dreamt that I could do that.
After I graduated from grade 12 I have no idea who I am what? What am I going to do next? What can I do? What I am good at? Etc.. University taught me more than I expected. It helped me to know what I am going for in the future. I started thinking of IT education, as so important to me and everyone around the world. And I have learned so much more … What most surprised me is my IT skill. I am able to teach students at the ODA village schools and help ODA with my IT skills that I am so happy and giving something back to ODA because it is ODA that brings me up to where I am today.
A very kind Australian man and his Lions club collected old computers and arranged for a school group to bring them over for us. My students had never seen a computer before and were so excited to learn how to use them.
The first time teaching at the village it was the time I am so proud of myself. I feel happy when the students call me teacher, not just ODA students, but the parents of the students, the Khmer government teacher also call me teacher, teacher, teacher.
Oh I feel so very shy, but that makes me stronger and brave to talk more with people around. I can to tell them who I am and how Mr Leng and ODA supporters helped me to get here.
I want the students to know if they try to stay school and study hard around working the farm, they can change their future life too.
Because the students were so interested I developed a 4 month course with Word and Excel and made up a book for them, so they could work at their own speed.
At our wedding, Mr Leng and his wife cut some of my hair to start new life and give us good luck for our future.
I was so proud when I get married to have Mr Leng and his wife in my ceremony with my parents. They have been father and mother to my brother and I with our parent away in Thailand trying to work and survive. My wife and I now have a 2 year old boy and he make us happy every day.
This is my happy family. I am very lucky to have a good education.
I am the ODA IT Manager for Leng and the ODA schools and have developed a 4 month Introduction to Word and Excel course. This make it easier for village young people work at their own pace and in future win jobs, even some still now in Covid time are still finding some work. I help Mr Leng with all fix old computer and IT work, help to give back what he give me over my life. I have an after hour and weekend job with a Cambodian bank with my team, making sure IT keep working. In future I want to be a programming teacher (coding ) and website development. I wish myself to achieve these when I am 35 or 40-year-old. I try to study on line but no tech help so it hard.
But Mr Leng teach me – you can always find a way, just keep trying. My parents are so happy to see what I have done in my life. My father said to me, you such a good person, smart, and he feels so happy when people around him say to him that he has good sons like me and my brother Trai Vet. One day Trai Vet will tell his story for you. We so very lucky Mr Leng and his wife let my brother and I live and study with ODA while we get educated. Somehow he always find food, and uniform for all here to study, he take children to hospital in middle of night when anyone sick, and he and his wife care like parent to over 30 student live here.
We also lucky that very kind people help him to keep do all that for all students by help with donations. It very hard in Cambodia now for so many people and still ODA look after students, feed them, keep them safe and teach how to live their life as a good person. I thank you all who help ODA and me and young people here to help students to study for better life.
All student at ODA Central and all village schools want thank you too.
You help change many lives
Forgo even just one cup of coffee a week eg $2.50 = a week of education for students
GO TO THE ODA WEBSITE – HELP ODA MAKE A DIFFERENCE With well over a 70% poverty rate in the subsistence farming villages surrounding our ODA schools, many children miss at least one meal a day, and there’s no money for school essentials. Covid is having a huge imact on these youngsters and their families right now.
These kids don’t lack intelligence – just opportunities and education that leads to future employment. We can’t possibly feed over 1500 ODA students, but we can feed their own strong desires to improve their families futures. At ages 11 and 12 their biggest wish is to help provide food and get younger siblings to access school rather than starting work in the fields like many of them have done at that age or younger. Many come on from the fields to our classes, tired, but so keen to improve their lives!