A Suburb Girl Life Story

Date : 2017-04-21
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Man Savone, aged 22, is studying Management as a Freshmen at Western University in Kampong Cham Province under a scholarship provided through The Asia Foundation and KAPE.  She lives in a small house with a single mother working in a small rice field plot in Ponhea Krek District, Tbong Khmum Province. At this age, she should already have graduated from university but because she started so late, she will be 25 or 26 before finishing. Savone did not start school until she was ten years old because her parents were too poor to support all 5 of their children at school; indeed, her oldest sister had to drop out of school when she was in Grade 3 to take care of her mother who had fallen ill.


Savone’s faced many difficulties to access education during her childhood. She could not acquire a good uniform or enough study materials, or even the 25 cents needed to buy fruit or cookies at school for a snack. She was often absent from school to help her parents farm, raise the cows and do the housework from day by day. She had to leave school many times because her parents could not support their seven children. Savone came from a very large family of 9 persons.


When Savone finally reached secondary school, she could not attend school for very long because her parents could not afford the $40 needed to buy her a bicycle.  Her school was about four kilometres away from her home. It is difficult to imagine all of the challenges that Savone had to face. Luckily, Savone’s aunt bought her a bike for school because she found that Savone’s four older siblings had already dropped out of school at primary school and she did not want to see Savone be the fifth child in the family to leave school before finishing. During the long summer vacation, Savone traveled to Phnom Penh to work in a garment factory to save money for her high school studies. “I had to travel about 200 kilometres to reach Phnom Penh to work with my older sister; I am afraid to meet with bad people but I have no choice and I need money to support my studies and my family as well,” Savone said.


Sadly, Savone’s father died of a heart attack when she was just about to finish Grade 11 and her two younger brothers in Grades 7 and 8 both had to drop out of school as well. This tragedy so upset her family that she was not able to finish Grade 12 until 2016, when she was well over 20 years old. After graduating from high school, Savone felt like she was sitting on a boat floating in the middle of the river and she did not know where to go because there was no way that her mother could afford the $1,500/year price tag of a university education.


Later, she was told about the university scholarship announcement for poor young women funded by KAPE and so she immediately applied for it. After an interview, test, and home visit, Savone was eventually able to qualify for a CTSP scholarship supported by The Asia Foundation. Savone expressed her strong commitment to the program and has been selected to be a deputy cohort leader. She is now responsible for overseeing the 30 students living in the dormitory, to review monthly meeting agendas, and monitor club study. Besides this, she also participates in English and computer studies, soft skills training, and exposure visits organized by CTSP.


I am very excited to be a part of the CTSP family, as I can learn both soft and hard skills. I have very much appreciated being a ceremony moderator during International Women’s Day; I feel confident to talk in front of many people and could finish the event smoothly. I strongly believe I am gaining enough skills for my future career as a project manager in an NGO,” Savone related.




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