Monday, November 5, 2012

Growing up in Cambodia: Ang Sovannara aged 10

Sovannara in beige shorts sells lottery tickets to buyers.
© UNICEF Cambodia/2012/Reid

Ang Sovannara* attends primary school and sells lottery tickets at the Vietnam/Cambodia border every day in Svay Rieng province.

“My name is Ang Sovannara and I’m 10 years-old. I live in a small house with two rooms. The house has black walls and a zinc roof. There is a separate toilet and bathroom. Three people sleep in one room and another three people sleep in another room. I have seven siblings and the oldest is married and lives in a separate house. My parents live in a separate house.

My father stays at home and raises pigs. My mother also sells lottery tickets like me. I’ve sold lottery tickets for three to four years now. My mother also sells lottery tickets for three to four years. I get 300 lottery tickets to sell every day and so does my mother. One ticket costs 10,000 Vietnamese Dong (US$ 0.50). For me I sell 80 tickets a day and I can earn around 800,000 Dong (US$ 40) per day. I give all my money to my mother. My mother is deaf and I have to speak loudly and my father is physically disabled. My oldest sister is married and is a cleaner at a hotel.

My two older brothers also sell lottery tickets and the other three brothers stay at home. They go to school every day. I go to Bovev Primary School. I’m in Grade 3. I go to school every day. I never miss school. I get up at 6a.m. in the morning and wash my face, brush my teeth and have a bath. My mother cooks breakfast for me and the family. I start school at 6:30 a.m. in the morning and finish school at 11a.m.

Before I go to school, I do some household chores like cleaning the floors. And my mother gives me pocket money – 5,000 – 10,000 riel (US$1.25 – 2.50). I use the money to pay the teacher for extra lessons which take place from 10-11a.m. I pay the teacher 2,000 riel (US$0.50) per day and I use the rest of the money for snacks. At school I like maths. I go to school to play with my friends and I also like the flowers and garden at school. I like my school and my teacher. There is nothing I don’t like. My best friend in class is called Ratchna and she is nine years-old. She’s one year younger than me.
After school, I wash the dishes and cook rice. My older brothers do not help with the household chores, only me. I only have one hour lunch and then I come here to sell the lottery. I leave home at 12:00 noon to sell the lottery here.

When I sell all the lottery tickets, I go back home to hand the money back to my mother. She then gives me new lottery tickets to sell until ten at night because the result of the lottery is announced every day at 4p.m. I don’t really like it. I don’t want to sell lottery tickets but my mother asks me to do it. I’m very bored. I always sell here. I don’t complain anymore to my mother although I don’t like it. When I don’t want to sell the lottery my mother beats me. When I used to complain she used to hit me so I don’t complain but I really don’t like doing this. I want to have a nap but I don’t have time. My mother tells me I have to sell all the lottery tickets she gives me. When I sell all the lottery tickets early, I can go home early to get the new tickets but I have to come back immediately.

My favourite thing is my school bike and I like skipping rope. I know a few Vietnamese words. Going to school makes me happy and selling lottery makes me sad. When I get bigger, I want to work in the casino as a card dealer and earn lots of money.”

As told to Reth Yuth and Angelique Reid

*Name changed to protect young persons’ identity

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