Meet Mr. Sophorn Ngin
I come from an extremely poor farming family that is still suffering in numerous ways. I am the youngest child in my family of six children.
My elderly parents are always tired and can barely work in the rice fields anymore. My father is often unwell, aged 79, and mother now 76 years has very high blood pressure, diabetes and re-occurring dizziness. My mother Yeng was orphaned from a very young age, but she had two brothers and one sister who all grew up together after their parents’ death. Sadly, her two brothers later died, one was beaten to death by Pol Pot’s soldiers during the Khmer Rouge and another died of an unknown illness.
I am the only child who had the opportunity to attend school at a university level. All of my elder siblings did not have the opportunity to complete high school due to the family’s financial problems. None of them exceeded grade 7, leaving me with the opportunity to finish high school as I am the youngest. My family was forced to make a choice as to which of their children would be able to complete their education.
Usually, the eldest sibling serves the family on the farm, growing rice and vegetables or looking after cows. My second eldest brother died in 2008 from an unknown illness, as the family could not afford to send him to a hospital. Two of my elder brothers worked hard in their studies and they were at the top of their classes in high school, receiving Special Awards from the school due to their commitment and academic performance. But sadly, poverty forced them to choose who can have a bright future and who cannot.
I am sympathetic towards my elder siblings because I was more fortunate than them. I also feel guilty because I was young and did not understand the exhausting struggle of living the life of a farm worker and facing financial problems. The family placed their hope in the youngest child and I was encouraged and supported by my family to attend school on a regular schedule.
I love and care for my people very much. My dream is to aid people in my community and country so that I can assist in breaking the poverty cycle. I turned 32 years old this year. My life has been extremely busy with work and study. I graduated my bachelor degree in Business Management in July, 2012, and have now also completed my Diploma of Intensive English for Academic Purposes at PUC Institute of Foreign Languages.
After I finished high school, I wanted to continue my education at university, but I knew that I would never have the opportunity as my family was in a difficult financial situation. I then went to Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital city to find a job. I also studied many short courses at a free school, where they provided education for the poor. I lived in Phnom Penh for 2 years but I wasn’t able to find a job because I had only completed a low level of education and I didn’t have any work experience. Luckily, I was able to stay with my neighbor for free. My parents sent me approximately $15 per month with some rice.
I was more than happy to learn English, Computer skills and other short courses at Khmer Buddhist Relief Association in a pagoda for two years. At the end of 2006, I was asked by my elder sister who is married and lives in Siem Reap to visit. Just two days later, I found a job at a hotel and I was offered US$45 per month. I was so excited and I rented an old bicycle for $10 per month to ride 4km to work every day. I worked in the same hotel for 14 months until I was asked by the hotel owner’s brother to work for him at his Internet Cafe. By working at an Internet Shop, I had many opportunities to use my Computer skills and I learnt a lot about internet research.
I never gave up my hope of a better future and wanted to continue my education at university. I had been working at the Internet shop for four and a half years, but I still couldn’t afford to start university because I had been sending some money to my parents for food. Also, the tuition fee of US$400 was too much.
One Sunday morning I was unwell and decided to take the day off work to rest. I was very fortunate to meet the directors of a local NGO in my village while they visited a poor, sick lady in my village. We had a short conversation and the directors of the NGO took an interest in me so, they offered me the opportunity of a job with their organisation.
After much consideration, I then decided to resign from my job. The owners of the internet cafe did not want me to leave, but I told them that I would like to work for the NGO to assist the poor Cambodians and to improve my skills. I also knew I would have a lot more time to study when I started working at the NGO.
On my last day, the owners of the shop surprised me with a second hand motorcycle and an old laptop as a reward for my hard work and studies. I was so happy and really appreciated the gifts but I was also sad to leave them. I had never received such a generous gift and it meant a lot to me.
The NGO offered me a position as a Computer Teacher by teaching computer lessons for half a day and then assisting the social outreach program for the second half. One year later, I was promoted to a full-time Social Worker because I am very empathetic, responsible, committed and I enjoy helping people.
I was offered a sponsorship for my school fees for University, and I was then promoted to Education Sponsorship Coordinator where I was in charge of the sponsorship programs. Since I was born into a poor farming family in the countryside, I was able to fully understand the hardships of the poor. I worked for the NGO for two and a half of years and I had the opportunity to assist many children and families in my village and community.
In April, 2013, the organization presented me with an “Academic Award Certificate” as an outstanding employee and best staff member of the year with the reward of some money as well.
That same month was also a very difficult time for me because I wished to move on and help more new people. Shortly after, I submitted my resignation letter and moved on to work for another local NGO called Feeding Dreams Cambodia (FDC).
I was offered the position of “Community Support Manager”. I have been working for FDC for two years now. I love my job very much and I am always very busy assisting the poor children and their families. I work closely with the communities and it is great because the children are offered free education and a hot meal every day. More importantly, the poor children are able to get a sponsorship to continue their education and their families are offered food and housing assistance. I am so very pleased to be a part of Feeding Dreams team and I always try of my best to do whatsoever I can with the team.
I really work hard but I never complain how much work I do – just feel lucky and happy to see someone’s smiles with hope of a better future. On November 1st, 2014, I was offered another “Award Certificate” called Best Staff of the Year, and FDC’s Co-director Ms Kerry Huntly presented me with my certificate.
I love and respect my people and wanted them to have brighter future.