Khorn Da, now 19, was born into abject poverty and had the hardest of starts in life. Many girls are put to work early around the home and in the rice paddies doing hard manual labour.
Da was young when her mother passed away and her father was forced to bring her to HOPE to ensure that she would receive sufficient support and care. In those days HOPE was a residential care facility and we looked after many children who were not able to live at home with poverty stricken families. HOPE became their safe home. While Da did settle into her new home at HOPE she remained restless and often somewhat mischievous.
Da showed little interest in school. So we started to look for what really interested her; the things that made her happy. She was often seen in HOPE’s community kitchen working alongside our house mums. It soon became apparent that she had a strong passion for cooking.
Consequently, we encouraged her to go to Siem Reap to visit a well-respected Skills Training Centre (Marum) that is linked to Friends International. HOPE has a formal agreement with Marum where we are able to place selected teenagers in their training programs. Courses range from motorbike/car mechanics, cooking, hairdressing, make-up artists, nail artists and hospitality.
Da was told that she could make up her own mind as to what she wanted to enroll in. She jumped at the opportunity and moved to Siem Reap in 2013 to start her training in cooking and hospitality. Da loved it and really excelled. The teachers were deeply impressed by her attitude and her culinary skills.
Da shone and developed into a wonderful, caring and intelligent young lady. She had good friends and HOPE’s on-going support. Over the next 2 years Da shone in all of her exams. Recently she started an industry placement position in selected hotels in Siem Reap. Students are paid for this work. So this not only provides Da with industry experience, but also gives her a first taste of earning her own money and sense of independence.
From this experience Da was recently offered a full time position at a respected international hotel in Siem Reap. Da jumped at the chance to take up the challenge of juggling completing her studies, working in a full time position and furthering her knowledge in the growing hospitality sector.
This amazing young lady has come a long way out of poverty. She has battled so many hardships, but with HOPE’s support and the financial help of her Australian sponsor she has carved a pathway that makes us very proud. Da looks forward to a rewarding career beyond the rice paddies.