Portrait : Sokhom, a woman committed to education

credit: Christine Redmond

Born in Cambodia into a poor family, Sokhom was deprived of any opportunity for education and emancipation. A simple training organized by Aide et Action to become a teacher gave her wings. She is now a teacher in the first community kindergarten in her village. 

Patriarchal traditions are still strong in Cambodia. Like many poor girls born in rural areas, Sokhom had no choice but to drop out of school at an early age to get married. " In poor areas, a girl is born to be married and take care of her family, so I never imagined going to university," she explains. I wanted to quit school and be like everyone else. At 18, I married my husband and became a housewife ." 

Working woman, single mother

 " Then one day, the village chief asked me if I would agree to take a training course to become a teacher in the framework of a project run by Aide et Action. At that time, I had no money and no job, so I really wanted to get involved. My husband took it very badly, he did not want me to work, which led to many arguments between us. Only a month after I started my new job, I got divorced and was left alone with my two young children. It was very hard to balance my job and my life as a mother. My youngest child was only 5 months old when I started and I had no choice but to take him to work ." 

Criticised by all but recognised by the government

Sokhom remembers that there was a lot of displeasure about breaking with tradition. " People in the village criticised me a lot. They didn't believe in me and kept saying that I was just a village girl with no qualifications or experience ". With the support of Aide et Action, Sokhom has had the opportunity to undergo numerous training courses related to teaching. Over the past 8 years, she has worked intensively to not only create the very first community kindergarten in the region but has also obtained official recognition from the government. " I worked hard to ensure that the school and my teaching met the official standards to the letter. I called the national education inspector for early childhood several times. She said I was the only one to call her, usually everyone tries to avoid inspections!

Educated, emancipated and autonomous

 " Taking care of the youngest children and providing them with a quality education is the most important work I can do and I see the consequences of this on a daily basis. Before, parents did not give any importance to education but the construction of the school by Aide et Action has changed everything. I have also changed. I am not the same person anymore, I have gained self-confidence and I have become an important and respected member of the community. My only dream now is to see my daughters finish school. "

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