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Sophea Chhum


My name is Sophea and I am 32 years old. I am a single mother with an eight year- old daughter. I have three older brothers and one younger sister. Unfortunately, my oldest brother died of electric shock at the age of 28 in 2003. My mother is retired and she now lives with my younger sister in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. My father is a bus driver and he works far away from home. My older brothers have their own families and they live at different places in Battambang. So, there are only me and my daughter who live in a house. My childhood was so memorable with both fun and sadness. I was fortunate that I had a chance to go to school from my early age. I remember that I was sent to preschool when I was five years old. I loved school and I had a lot of fun at school. I enjoyed going to school and I really tried hard. I always went to school except when I got really sick. I loved my teachers and friends and I remembered the time I spent with them. However, being at home was a different experience from what I spent at school.  My mother was a midwife who worked tirelessly day and night to support not only my whole family but also my relatives. She did not get any help from my father. My father just did not care about the family as much as my mother did. Even though he kept himself so busy and changed from one job to another, he did not really help my family. My mother was the only person who responsible for everything in the family. She earned money to support the family and took care of everyone when they got sick. I always thought that my mother played an important role as both mother and father. I always felt warm whenever I was with her, but she usually spent her time at work. Most of the time I was home, I heard arguments between one another in the family and so many problems that bothered me a lot. I grew up seeing and experiencing so many hardships and felt what my mother felt. Although I encountered so many problems in my life, I never gave up and I kept on studying very hard until I got a bachelors degree.


After I graduated from university, I got married to a man who I could share my sadness and worries with. I thought that it was the only way that I could escape from my miserable situation because we had something in common and he loved and cared about me so much. Finally, it led me to almost the end of the world when I broke up just after five years of marriage because of some family problems. I felt absolutely sorrowful and did not know what to do. I felt very hopeless, but I got motivation from my mother and friends that I had to accept it and try to live for my daughter. My life since childhood until then seemed awful because so many terrible things happened to my family. After having such a horrible situation in my family, I was trying to look for a job and fortunately I found TASSEL. I was called for an interview and I was told about TASSEL’s program. I got really interested in it and soon after that, I got another call that I got hired by TASSEL to become an English teacher. I was sent to work in Samrang village which is in the rural area of Battambang. I worked there for one year. My main responsibility was to teach English to the children. But I also did home visits when I found out that there were some problems with the children. If I found out that the children did not participate well in the class, did not show up or got low grades etc., I went to visit their houses. When I visited them I found out that they had a lot of problems. Some did not have their own land, their family members got sick, their parents ran away, their parents got divorced or worked far away from home and so on. Some did not have enough food to eat, and they forced themselves to work to help their family earn money. Working one year there, my sadness and worries started to go away and I felt so released. I spent most of my time at school with the children. I had a lot of fun teaching and spending time with them, and it reminded me of my childhood at school. I put them into my heart and I loved and cared for them as a part of my family. I cared about their education, I did home visits to make sure they wer Since my mother got cancer and I also had to take care of my daughter, I moved to work in Rattinak branch which is Battambang city. However, life here is not far different from Samrang. There are a lot of people who need help, love and care. So, I continue to work hard and do what I used to do in Samrang. I know more and more children and I also can help to take care of more people when they are sick. I feel pleasure to work here and I have a good relationship with the children, the poor families, and also Khmer and foreign teachers. My life has changed a lot since I started working with TASSEL. It feels like home and where everyone treats one another equally and as their own family. I am very thankful that I had an opportunity to join TASSEL and got involved in its program. I am excited that now my daughter is also a TASSEL student and she loves TASSEL so much. I hope more foreigners will love to join and be part of TASSEL to help change this poor nation. 

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