Friday, June 14, 2013

Growing Up In Cambodia

Srey Phea is 11-years-old and from the Tum Puon ethnic minority group. After school she works at the Boeng Yeak Lorm Lake, a tourist attraction in Ratanakiri province.
Srey Phea arranging the lifejackets at Boeng Yeak Loam Lake, Ratanakiri province.
© UNICEF Cambodia/2013/Reid
“My name is Srey Phea. I’m 11 years old. I live in Phum Lun village, which is about thirty minutes’ walk from here [Boeng Yeak Loam Lake]. My house is very small and has a zinc roof. There is only one room. I live with my older sister Dorb who is about 30 years old and my cousin Pom who is 20 years old. We are from Tum Puon national (ethnic minority group). My parents don’t live with me. They live in La Kat village. If I walk [to my parents’ home] it takes one hour to get there. If I go by motorbike, it takes me thirty minutes to get there. My parents are farmers and they plant rice and other vegetables.
Where I live there are five villages with people from Tum Puon national. My parents speak only in Tum Puon and they don’t speak any other languages. When my mother goes to buy cooking oil, prolock (fish paste) and some clothes in the market, she speaks little Khmer. I speak Tum Puon fluently and Khmer.  I also speak a little English and I can say, “What is your name”, “My name is Srey Phea”, and “How old are you.” I speak English when the Barangs (foreigners) come to rent the life jackets. I learnt English from teacher Kung who is also Tum Puon national. I speak Khmer when I study with my Khmer teacher.

I go to Hun Sen Yeak Lom Primary School. I am in grade 3. I like reading and learning at school. I just started this school this year. Before I studied in La Kat village where my parents live. I moved here [Phum Lun village] one year ago. Before I go to school, I help my sister by washing dishes and filling up the water storage. I get up at six in the morning and sometimes I wash everyone’s clothes.

I go to school at 7 a.m. I have only one best friend in school and her name is Srey Phun. She is 10 years old and she is Tum Puon national and we speak together in Tum Puon. Most of the students are Tum Puon nationals but some are Khmer. The lessons are in Khmer. I don’t like people shouting at school and disturbing me. I have a lot of friends – around seven.
Srey Phea at Boeng Yeak Loam Lake, Ratanakiri province.
© UNICEF Cambodia/2013/Reid

I finish school at 10 a.m. and when I come home, I wash more clothes, take a shower and then come here [Boeng Yeak Loam Lake]. I work here from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. I rent out the life jackets to visitors and I work with my aunty from Monday to Sunday. I earn 10,000 to 20,000 riel (US$2.50 to US$5.00) a day. Sometimes we don’t make any money. When I grow up, I want to work with an NGO like VSO (a non-governmental organisation) or become a teacher.”

As told to Kimlong Sain and Angelique Reid

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