A CHILD TRANSFORMED
Men Dara Reaksmey was 11 years old when she joined CCF. One of six children being raised alone by her widowed mother, who struggled to keep the family together, Reaksmey faced an uncertain future.
With CCF’s support, Reaksmey, now 26, is a university graduate working in CCF’s Sponsorship team. Here, Reaksmey – known as Smey – tells her story in her own words, featuring a foreword from CCF Founder and Executive Director, Scott Neeson.
“Smey exemplifies so much about CCF’s work. She allows us to look beyond simple charity and the obligation to help the less fortunate. The total Return on Investment surpasses any monetary measure. With Smey’s transformation, through university, through leadership training and a community give-back program, we have not only profoundly changed the course of her life: her family has a better, more meaningful life. Smey’s own children will never endure the same neglect and poverty, and with that, a generation has been changed.
“CCF’s role was never to instill Smey with compassion or leadership. She always had these qualities, buried away like a dormant seed. We simply help them find daylight.”
“I come from a poor family.
I was born in Kandal province [next to Phnom Penh] the youngest of six siblings. My family situation became worse after my dad died when I was nine and my mother became the breadwinner to support the family.
My mother borrowed money from my aunt to run a small business, selling desserts. After I finished my study, I helped my mother to sell in my village with my old bicycle. Sometimes I took the dessert to school to sell at break time. I would watch my friends playing and having fun. I really wanted to play with them, but I could not. I missed my friends and childhood.
When I came back from selling, I went to collect vegetables in the lake behind my house to sell. My sister and I had to collect tamarind leaves to sell as well. Another day, I would go fishing with my brother to get food for the family.
My school was far away from my home. It would take me 30 minutes to get there. My first and second sister had to stop studying to help my mother. The rest of us still went to school. My mother did not let us stop our study: she told us that education is very important for our future. But we did not have a chance to study English like other children. I wanted to learn the English language, but my family could not enroll me to study.
I never had a new school uniform to wear like other kids.
Luckily, in November 2005, I met Papa Scott [Scott Neeson] when he went to visit my neighbour, a former CCF kid. I asked Papa Scott if he would accept me to CCF because I wanted to study and my family is very poor. I was accepted and became a CCF child. My family was so happy, especially my mother. She smiled with a tear. A year later, my fifth sister, Kalika, was accepted by CCF. She joined the vocational training and became a member of CCF staff in 2009. She worked with the MCP team (Maternal Care Program) for eight years. She now has her own business and children.
After I joined CCF, my life completely changed. CCF enrolled me to study English and computers, and I got a chance to learn things like painting, art and Karate. I am very happy and grateful to CCF for providing us with a safe and enjoyable environment, food transportation, school supplies, healthcare, dental service and interesting programs such as Leadership, the Food Program and mentorship.
I was lucky enough to have sponsors through CCF, who supported me. My first sponsor was very kind and loved me as her own family. She came to visit me in 2007 and my sponsor’s daughter, my friends and I played hide and seek. It was fun. I miss that time. My second sponsor visited in 2012. She supported me until I graduated. I am very grateful to her. I am very lucky to have known her and for her to have been part of my life.
I have been a CCF staff member since 2016. I work as a Sponsorship Administrator and really love my job and my team. I get support, care, love and good advice from my bosses and team.
My colleagues and CCF staff are like my brothers and sisters because they always encourage, provide good advice, share their experience and love me as their family. If I had not joined CCF, I don’t know what my life would be like. I might be working in a factory or married at a young age.
Before, I never thought I would be able to attend university as my family could not afford my study fees. But after I joined CCF, my life changed remarkably. I graduated with a degree in English Communication in 2017. CCF, my family, friends and Papa Scott were very proud of me. They are happy that I am successful and have a bright future.
I’m so happy as well that my dream came true and I am grateful to CCF for making my wish from a young age happen. Now I have a good job and live by myself. I support my family when they need me, like paying for medicine for my brother or if my sister needs help. Being the youngest, I am the glue that connects everyone in the family.
I have three goals for my future. My first goal is to study abroad; my second goal is to set up my own business; and the last goal is that I wish to carry on helping CCF and the kids. I hope my dreams come true and that I never give up on my big goals.
I would like to thank CCF, sponsors, donors and staff, and especially Papa Scott for giving me new hope.”
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