Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Phalla is a former Mith Samlanh student who started studying at Mith Samlanh in 1997. Phalla recently came back to Mith Samlanh to proudly show off her High School Certificate to her teacher from Mith Samlanh. While she was at the center, she told me her story and what it was like being at Mith Samlanh:
“I remember that in 1997 when I was only 9 years old, I met two of Mith Samlanh’s staff. My father was a motor taxi driver and at that time, my mother was seriously ill and needed surgery. We lived in a squatter area.
Mith Samlanh was very helpful for us. They helped take my mother to the clinic for treatment. We got by with a lot of support from the organisation. Since our living conditions were very difficult and because people were very frightened about human trafficking and kidnapping, especially of young woman, my mother did not allow me to study. She was very worried. Fortunately, we finally convinced her to let me study at Mith Samlanh. I started in the pre school class. After a year, I jumped to Grade 2. I was so small, I was the smallest in my class [laughing]…
I studied with a teacher called Monyleap. I remember she asked me to repeat a lecture from the previous class. I had to do it without reading any notes so it had to come from my try really hard to memorise everything. Since I was so small and I had to do it by standing in front of the class on a chair. This way everyone could see me! [giggle]… It was so funny. Just thinking about it……it seems that it happened yesterday.
Later I was reintegrated to public school. I went into Grade 3 at Sothearos Primary School. When I was in Grade 6 in 2001, my house burned down. I stopped studying for one year. Mith Samlanh kept providing support to us such as food, mattresses, mosquito nets, blankets, rice… My parents sent me to live with my aunt. When things were a little better, my father took me back home. I continued my study with full support from Mith Samlanh.
Now I am 20 years old. I just graduated from High School this year. I came to the center today to show my teacher my Diploma. Without her and other staff at Mith Samlanh, I would have given up school many years ago. I am thankful to Mith Samlanh that it kept providing support to me. I am thankful to my teacher who was very patient with me, kept me on the right track and encouraged me not to give up hope. Now I have proven that it was worth it. [smile]… I plan to continue to University of Law and Economics. I want to study Economics. In the future, I want to work in a private company. My advice to other people to have similar fate like me and my family is to never give up.”