My name is Tharam, and I was born on February 17, 1995, in Battambang, Cambodia. I am the second of four children in my family. When I was five years old, my parents moved to a forest that was only five kilometers away from the community, and it was very quiet and dangerous with vicious animals and landmines. Despite the dangers, my parents were never afraid of them; they wanted to change their lives. After a few months, I was ill with a serious condition. I couldn’t even speak and move like other children. Even my family used to think that I may not be able to speak. Therefore, they had to send me back to live with my grandmother in the village. When I was seven, my life became better and better. I could go to school with my neighbors, who became my best friends then. We walked to school, but it was fun because we liked playing with my friends along the way to school. After school, I went to tend cattle with my villagers, even though I didn’t have any buffaloes or cows. I went just for fun. I liked staying with friends and making them laugh. We all loved each other so much. I finished elementary school, attended Secondary school, and the worst memories came - four of my friends failed, another dropped out of school, and only three people became students there. We went to the same school, but not the same class, except one. Five months later, Sin, who was my classmate, dropped out. Due to this, I had to sit by myself in class for a year. Eighth grade came, and my best friend, Toch, drowned in the lake when he went to his relative’s funeral. I remember the last words he said to me the day before, which was, “If I die, will you cry?” I told him nothing. It became the worst thing I had ever faced in my whole life. After his death, I was afraid to make new friends for years. My grandmother also died that year because of illness, leaving me alone. Thus, I had to live by myself while attending school alone, as all my best friends gave it up. It was only me who had an opportunity to study in high school.
Time never stops, and we couldn’t control it. Not only the good things became our memories, but so did the bad stories. Somehow, I think I am luckier than some of my friends. After I graduated high school, I had a chance to educate myself in a university. Despite this, I cannot forget everything in the past, and it is still in my mind. These problems still happen; most of the poor kids drop out of school for their parents can’t support their studies. For years, the villagers have had no rice to eat. Some of the rice fields were empty. It rained for only a short while, and then it stopped completely. Due to this, the farmers have to leave their farms and go to Thailand. Even if the rain is enough, the agricultural laborers still leave the country because the yields are cheap. It seems as though they do it only for trading. Due to these issues, I wanted to do something to fix it, but I couldn’t. In the second year, I found out the best way to solve these issues, joining TASSEL, a place I can dream of helping poor children and the people with nothing. TASSEL gives me a chance to help the young, the old, and myself. Although my English is not perfect, I want to share it with children and tell them to be good citizens. Even years into the future, I still want to be a part of TASSEL. I want the kids to be able to stay with their friends, families, and people around them until they die. My childhood was not so good, but I hope the next generations will be better.