Monday, April 29, 2013

Growing up in Cambodia: Sok Khen aged 11


Sok Khen, aged 11, wants to complete grade 12 and become a Khmer language teacher.
© UNICEF Cambodia/2013/Lisa Kim
My name is Sok Khen. I’m eleven years old and am in  grade 3. I live in the Prek Khsach village, in Kiri Sakor district. My house is only a couple minutes’ walk from school. My house is medium-sized. It is made out of wood and the roof is made of metal sheets.

My parents are both fishermen but during the dry season they collect snails for living. I have six siblings. My oldest brother is called Dhak and he is 21 years old. He works in Thailand. Another brother who is 17 years old also works in Thailand. He is called Doh. Both of them send money home, together they send 1 million riels ($250) every month. My little sister who is six years old goes to the pre-school opposite my school.

Sok Khen in his classroom (front right) studying the Khmer language with his classmates.
© UNICEF Cambodia/2013/Lisa Kim
I like learning new things and playing with my friends in school. I also like helping with keeping the school clean. For example, dusting off the furniture and keeping the playground tidy. I study three subjects in school: Maths, Khmer language and Social Studies. I love all three of them. I am friends with everyone in school but have two best friends. One of them is also in grade 3 – he is in my class, and the other one is in grade 4.

I get up at 6 o’clock in the morning and before I go to school, I clean the house for about five minutes. After school, I like to read and play with my friends who live near my house. In my spare time, I come to the school playground to play with my friends. We also like to go swimming in the sea that is in front of my house.

The playground of Prek Khsach primary school where Sok Khen and his friends play together.
© UNICEF Cambodia/2013/Lisa Kim
My friends make me happy when we play together. I am also very happy when I get money from my parents to buy snacks and cakes. But I’m sad when I fight with my friends in school.

When I get older, I would like to become a Khmer language teacher because the children in my village are not very good in Khmer. Many are good in writing Khmer but bad at reading. I can help them with the reading.

If I had one wish, I would wish to become a good student who knows everything and is excellent in all subjects! I want to go to grade 12 and pass the exam. I need to go to another island to study after grade 6 because my village doesn’t have other schools. And after that, I want to go to the provincial town to study in high school like some students have done. About ten students from my village have gone to the provincial town to study. They stay with their relatives or family friends during the school year and don’t come home often because it’s expensive to travel. My brothers send money home from Thailand so I will be able to go high school.


As told to Lisa Kim and Chum Channra

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