Essay by scholarship student Kun Kanha

Kun Kanha is one of our current scholarship students. She is studying English at Norton University in Phnom Penh. In 2019, Kanha was kind enough to write a little essay on her life before university. Her story is exemplary for many of our fellows, as many of them face and overcome lots of struggles before successfully applying for one of our scholarships. This is why we wanted to share it in our blog:

Left: Kanha’s cousins and nephews who play under their family’s house and help with the housework. Right: View of the back of the family home.

My childhood wasn’t easy and not freedom as the other child. I have housework a lot, because only me that stay with my parents. My sisters and brother they worked in Phnom Penh – they stopped study while they were young (16–17 years). I started study at grade 1 when I was 8 years old. I walked with my sisters and brother to school until I was 12 at grade 5 (my sister and brother stopped study while I studied grade 3). So, my mother didn’t need to pay a lot.

When I came back from school, I went to my grandmother’s house had lunch with her every day, because I can’t cook. I was so young and my mother busy to sell fish in the market (Phnom Penh city). She got up at 4AM everyday – at 2 o’clock she arrived home. Per day only earn 15$–20$, but we have to pay a lot. My mother bought me a bicycle. She encouraged me, because I studied hard and she promised with me if I get good result in class, she will give me a gift.

Until grade 7 my teacher told me I can study grade 9 although I don’t study at grade 8, so I changed to study at Serey Mongkol high school grade 9. It’s far from my house – I ride bicycle 20 minutes from house to school. I didn’t come house until 3 PM. I had to study part time, it was year that I had diploma exam. I prepared food from house and ate with friends (food at school was expensive). I arrived home at 3 PM – have two hours to relax. At 5 PM I went to study at Khemara Kidshelp School (KKS). I studied English when I was 12 years old and KKS was my first English school. I studied there until I graduated grade 12 (7 years I studied at KKS).

When I studied grade 10 my mother had to borrow money from the bank and bought a new motorbike for me (only 600$). I studied a lot. In the morning I got up at 6 AM, prepared to Khmer school until 11 AM. I had lunch with friends sometime alone. 1 PM I went to Chinese school until 4:30 o’clock. I studied Chinese because nowadays in Cambodia a lot of work need who can speak Chinese, English and use computer. 5 PM I arrived home and waiting for school bus to study English at KKS. I left school 7 PM, arrived home 7:30. I had shower and had dinner with family. After this I read and review the lesson until 9 PM.

Grade 11 It was a busy year and difficult. I studied a lot, but I don’t have any way to school. My motorbike sold, it couldn’t use anymore. My best friend always took me to school, sometimes she didn’t go to and I was waiting for another friends.

Grade 12 I still didn’t have motorbike. Although it was hard, but I try. Finally, my hard working was completely. Kidshelp helped find sponsor for support my study. It was an opportunity I can continuous to study at university. I started my new life at dormitory that give me a lot of experience how to live without family, feeling homesick, especially, I knew new friends and old student gave me advice to be careful to live in Phnom Penh.

Now I study English at Norton University it’s my first year, I felt stress because a lot of work to do, but I need to try its experience. I also work at Norton – position secretary. I get only 100$ per month, after I work three months, I will get 130$. If I don’t work maybe I don’t have enough money for support myself, because my sisters and brother they have their own family it was only my second sister that supported my family. My mother cannot work and my father also. She has to pay 50$ per month for medicine, and my father just stay at home. My mother has poor eyesight doctor said if she doesn’t want to be blind, we need to pay 1000$. Now she just stays at home and look after my nephew. I am happy to include my name – thanks for advice and encourage me I will try my best.


Note: Since writing this article Kidshelp have arranged for Kanha’s mother to visit a Khmer Sight Foundation clinic where it was established that the suggested operation would be of no benefit as the issues were diabetes related. She received advice on diet and matters have improved a little.

In February 2020, Kanha was elected Manager of her dormitory for 2020/21.

The resilience and adaptability that someone develops by overcoming many obstacles during his/her childhood makes him/her a perfect candidate for our scholarship programme. If you are interested in supporting a student yourself, please subscribe our newsletter. We will publish the list of candidates for the 2020/2021 academic year in September.

View of the forecourt of the parents’ house. The vessels on the right serve as water storage.