Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Growing up in Cambodia

Sreng Chantrea, aged 13, is from the Lao ethnic minority community and he also has a physical disability. He speaks fluent Khmer and Lao and speaks a little English.

Seng Chantrea at his home in Stung Treng village.
© UNICEF Cambodia/2013/Reid
“My name is Sreng Chantrea and I am 13 years old. I live Samaki commune in Stung Treng province. My home is made of wood and it has a zinc roof. I live with my father, grandma and sister. My father is called Leav and he is a journalist. My mother sells cassava in the market but lives and works in Ratanakiri province. My eldest brother died when he was only nine months old. He had the same condition as me.

My sister Srey Ma is 11 years old and also has the same condition as me. We never talk about our condition but I do help her when she needs it. My sister Srey Ma goes to Hang Khoban Primary School. I also studied at Hang Khoban Primary School and I really liked it there. When I started I was six years old and in Grade 1. I used to walk to school by myself and sit at the front of the class. I was never worried about being treated differently and my classmates were always nice to me. At first, I was treated the same as the other students but later on, I received more attention. For example, the teachers gave me more attention when I struggled with my maths and other students would carry my bag or buy snacks for me.

Seng Chantrea with his English teacher, Sophall Yka at Hun Sen Samaki Lower Secondary School.
© UNICEF Cambodia/2013/Reid
Now I go to Hun Sen Samaki Lower Secondary School. I am the Chief of the class and I’m the only boy with a disability at this school. My favorite subjects are English and Khmer but I don’t like Mathematics.  I enjoy studying and playing with my friends. I like going to school because I have a lot friends to play with. Recently I haven’t been absent from school which is good because I get bored staying at home. My best friend is Sothea, Thy, and a few others.

Before school, I prepare my books and do my homework. After school, I eat lunch and do the washing. In my spare time, I enjoy reading books and listening to the radio but I do not like playing games. My favorite possessions are my English books. Studying and singing makes me happy but I get sad when I complete my assignments incorrectly. When I grow up I want to work for a NGO. If I had one wish, I would wish to be good looking.”

As told to Angelique Reid

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