Pheak at her desk at work.
Our GATE program currently supports 243 girl students. Currently, we are providing 105 families of the GATE students with rice support to make sure that vulnerable families have adequate nutrition. Below is a story about Pheak, a student who has recently graduated from our GATE + GATEways program. With hard work exerted in school, she has proven to be very successful in the work force.
We met Pheak at the garment factory where she works as a Chartered Accountant. Pheak graduated in September of 2014 from Vanda Accounting Institute at Phnom Penh. Lotus Outreach has supported her since the seventh grade, through high school, and university. Adding to her LO scholarship, she also won a scholarship from the Accounting Institute.
To further support her studies and gain work experience, Pheak started a part time job while in her third year at University and was already employed before she ended her fourth year. While there are a lot of unemployed university students, Pheak said that all her batch and the juniors she knows have secured good jobs in their field.
We asked, “Why,” how come you were able to secure this great job with a $300+ salary even before graduation?
“I think it’s because I had joined the workforce early and didn’t wait till the end of my course. I started working as a receptionist in my third year and already had some work experience. I had also used my scholarship money to study computer and English. Further, I bought a computer with my salary and scholarship support and began to practice all I learned at college and at work. I feel I was therefore prepared to cope with the interview with some confidence, as I know what to do when they asked me, even though my English is still not strong. Even so, I was very nervous when I applied for this job. I had to go through 3 rounds of interviews and computer and English were very important and I was especially nervous about my English. I bought a computer at the beginning of third year and used it to practice at home all that I was learning in class. What we learned at Vanda and the software we used were different than what I had to use here when I started so I had to be flexible and adaptable. We used Excel at Vanda and here we use more complicated system. I was still nervous about keeping my job in the first month so I also worked at home after office hours to practice so I could quickly become skilled in that system. Now, with this experience behind me, I feel confident that I can get a job with a better salary if and when I wish to."
To learn more about Pheak's history, we asked a about her home and family.
“I come from a tiny district, Nimith at Banteay Meanchey and was supported by the GATE program since grade seven. My parents and family moved to Siem Reap when I was in grade 9 for better job opportunities. They have now resettled at SR and run a recycling business that has improved their livelihood. My mother asked me to drop out and come with them but I refused to stop studying as I was under scholarship and would have lost it. I lived with relatives through grades 9 and 10 then the program allowed me to stay at a residential home for 11 and 12 so I could focus on my studies better."
Pheap, like many other GATE/GATEway funded students, has demonstrated resilience and perseverance.
We asked how Pheak feels she has grown as a person and how different would she have been had she not received support from LO over all these years.
Pheak responds through welling tears….
“Now I feel that I am a person who has confidence in myself, responsible, and independent. It’s different from when I was young—always under control and guidance of my parents—and I didn’t have a direction for myself because I was still young.”
"Now that I am grown up, I have a good job and I have money, so I realize my real potential and what I can do. I am now much happier than before. "
She ended the interview with saying, "especially, I still want to thank Lotus Outreach again for the support until now. Without the support, I can’t imagine how my life would have been, so I am extremely delighted.”
Pheak is one of hundreds of poor Cambodian village girls from impoverished communities that Lotus Outreach has supported through high school and into University and training courses, thereby building human resources emaciated by decades of civil war and the Khmer Rouge purges.
GATE students on their way to school
GATE students in their element!