My name is Sen Thai. I am twenty-two years old. I was born in Kralanh district located in a rural area about sixty kilometers from Siem Reap City. I have two brothers and one sister. I am the youngest in my family.
While I was young, my parents were farmer. They worked hard on the farm to make a living. That time I was under ten years old. In the morning, I went to the field until five o’clock. I caught fish and fed the cows and buffaloes. I did not go to school until I was ten.
From day to day, my family became poorer and poorer because the farm was flooded, and they lost a lot of money. Not only this, they also borrowed a lot of money to save the family. But it still makes my family more poor and poor and they had a lot of owed money. So my parents decided to sell the property such as my house, my land and all animals to pay back the owed money.
Because of this condition, my parents moved to live with my relatives in Siem Reap Province, Angkor Wat. They started to build a new life in Siem Reap.
Although my parents were so poor but I was very lucky because they sent me to school when I was ten years old in 2000. I was very happy because I started the first time at school.
At first Siem Reap was so difficult to earn money. My parents had no good knowledge and experience, and they did not used to live there. My father worked as a construction builder, and my mother was a walk seller. My mother found the ripe palm fruit at the field to make jelly cake. She walked around the village to sell them. They could earn a little bit of money per day. They had to pay everything. They tried hard with this work until they spread their business wider. They saved money from day to day until they could afford to buy an old motorbike. My father had two businesses. He worked as a builder in the daytime from 7am to 5pm, and he worked as a motorbike driver from 6pm until 9pm. My mother changed from making palm jelly to be a roadside food vendor. For me I went to school in the morning and helped my mothers work in the evening.
No longer I finished primary school, and I was sixteen years old. My father improved his work very quickly. He started to make a self-employed business, so he could build a small building and a small construction work. So, after school, I went with my father to earn more money.
After two years, I could drive motorbike well. I started to be a motorbike driver instead of my father at nighttime. Besides this, I also spent my evening time to study English class at my village. I had to spend one hundred riel per hour. It is very cheap price. Unfortunately, only a year, my teacher stopped teaching because there were no students anymore. So I stopped studying English for two months too.
In 2010, I finished Secondary School, I had to change another school to study in high school. That high school is far from my house about five kilometers. I rode my bike to school everyday for one year. That year, I stopped working with my father; I just helped my mother a little bit work because I had to study extra classes in the evening. But at night I still worked as a motorbike driver to support my study. I also spent an hour to study free English classes at an organization near my village from 5pm – 6pm. Later on, my English had been improving, so my parents brought me an old tuk tuk because they thought that working as a tuk tuk driver could earn a lot of money. As you know, Siem Reap is a tourism site because it has many ancient temples, especially Angkor Wat temple, so many tourists from different countries in the world come to visit Siem Reap.
Every day, I had to work so hard. I went to study at high school from seven o’clock in the morning until 11, extra classes from one until 5pm and English classes from 5pm – 6pm. After dinner, I went for tuk tuk driving from 7 til late night to earn money to support my study. I had to try hard on working as a tuk tuk driver because its my first time, and I was so young. I could earn a little bit of money. Sometimes I could not earn money because there were a lot of tuk tuk drivers too.
No longer, about one year, the mission of that organization was finished, and I had no English class anymore. First time, I thought that I had no English classes because I had no money to study at private school, it is so expensive. But fortunately, after that organization left away, the two Monks had a great idea to run an English classes to children and adults. They invited me and some of my friends to join too. We were really happy because we thought that we could improve our English and helped poor Cambodians around our community to study English.
After a long discussion, we were all agree to run it. We started on March 0 and it is named Human and Hope Association. At first there were not a lot of students, but after three or four months later, there were a lot of students, especially poor children. I taught to children class from 5pm to 6pm and I also spent an hour to study English with a Monk who is manager of this school. He was studying Bachelor Degree on English lecturer at University in year three, so his English is such very good.
For me I had to work so hard again, I worked all day and half night. From 7 till and from till 5pm I was at high school and extra classes and I taught English from 6 till 7 and then I went for tuk tuk driving from 7:30 till 11:30 at night.
After one year, Human and Hope Association has been improving because we had a good cooperation, and we also have an Australian volunteer. Her name is Sally. Now she is an operation manager of Human and Hope Association. She helps us to build this school bigger and bigger.
No longer I finished high school on August 2013. After that I decided to stop working as tuk tuk driver, and I started to work full time staff as Community Liaison at Human and Hope Association.
I am very lucky, after I finished high school; I started to go to university on October 2013 which is supported by Human and Hope Association. I am studying the foundation year at Build Bright University. I am really like working at Human and Hope Association because I can improve myself and help a lot of poor Cambodian and I also thank to HHA so much.