This story, to celebrate International Women’s Day, comes to us from our Mith Samlanh program in Phnom Penh. The name has been changed to protect her identity, but Sophea’s story is typical of many of the young women who come to train at Mith Samlanh – determined, driven and focused to seize the opportunity for positive change in their life.
‘Sophea’s sewing skills are evident: in a crisp decorated shirt of her own making, she looks more like a young professional than a youth from an impoverished background. She lives in a tiny house with her parents who are often sick, but will not allow her humble origins to stand in her way. A 17-year old brimming with determination and a desire to succeed, Sophea views her training in the sewing class at Mith Samlanh as her first step towards a brilliant career in retail. Her commitment to her studies is marked by her hard work and dedication, as well as the beautiful clothes she produces.
Sophea stands out from other students because her English is very good; she speaks what she knows of the language with confidence and personality. She says that of all their life skills and education classes, English is her favorite lesson and she practices at every opportunity. Sophea has already been in training for a year and a half, but doesn’t want to graduate yet because she says she still has more to learn and wants to acquire as many skills as possible to make sure she is successful!
Sophea’s plans are big and bold. She means to save hard until she has enough to open her own clothing store. If her business grows, which she is resolute about achieving, she wants to hire more Mith Samlanh graduates so she can increase her production. Not content with success in just one field, Sophea would also love to have beauty training so she can run spas as well as shops.
Sophea feels happy and incredibly proud of where she is and where she is going. Articulate and opinionated, she speaks of the importance of these skills to her as a Cambodian woman. Not only can she generate income for herself, but she is confident that when she has a family of her own she will be able to provide for them well and offer her children opportunities that Sophea did not have herself when she was young.’