Thy Rina is one of 5 CCF students off to Hong Kong to take part in an annual leadership event

No one was more surprised than Thy Rina’s sister when it was revealed that her younger sibling had won one of only five places available to CCF students to attend a leadership event in Hong Kong.

It seems that Rina, 15, had been keeping her talents under wraps from her older sister, Khav, who had no idea just how good she really was.

Rina beat 106 other CCF students who applied to attend the Powered By Youth Forum in Hong Kong in September, an annual gathering hosted by charity Kids4Kids, which brings together young people passionate about social change and being leaders in their community.

She battled through a long process of selection tests and a final interview to get one of the five slots.

There was no doubting how much it meant to Rina, a Grade 9 student at CCF’s Neeson Cripps Academy, has she broke into a huge smile and ran up to the front after her name was read out by CCF founder, Scott Neeson.

Watching from the sidelines was her sister Khav, 19, also a CCF student now at university studying psychology, who was crying tears of joy and admits to being shocked when Rina was picked.

“She surprised me,” says Khav, after giving her little sister by her side a big hug.
“I didn’t expect this because I have never heard her speaking English, she never showed me what she has inside. That’s why I did not think that she is ready yet but it is her time now. I am very, very proud of her.”

Rina, a quiet and unassuming girl, lights up as she talks about the opportunity to go abroad for the first time, having missed out on an earlier trip to Malaysia because of problems with documentation for her passport.

“I feel excited. I want to see the big buildings in Hong Kong and especially, I want to make new friends and pick up some new ideas.
“Tonight, I will go to my hometown and I will tell my grandparents that I was selected and I know they will be happy.”

Without CCF, Rina would in all likelihood never have had the chance to travel overseas. From a family of nine, she joined CCF six years ago after her parents moved to Thailand seeking work to support their large family.

Her sister, Khav, was already in CCF’s programs and doing well.

Rina’s parents have returned to Phnom Penh and they are in contact, but she remains in CCF’s residential facilities for stability. The family did get together to celebrate Rina’s achievement at being selected to go to Hong Kong.

She also joined her fellow Hong Kong-bound students for a photocall.

All the CCF students travelling to Hong Kong will stay with host families during their stay.
They will attend a 2-day forum with peers and industry leaders to look at social issues and how to bring about change in their own communities as young leaders.

It will be the third year that CCF has sent students to the Kids4Kids event.

Sokchannin Kram, CCF’s Education Manager, praised all the students who applied to go but said ultimately on five could make it.

“Those who didn’t make it this year, it’s not the end,” she told them. “Try again next year.”
“Students selected are the one who we believe will make the most of the opportunity.”

Roeum Phearun, 17, one of two boys picked, said he was delighted.
“My dream is to be a person who gets selected. Today I have done it and I’m really proud of myself.”

Rina, who wants to follow in her big sister’s footsteps and go to university has dreams of getting a scholarship to study in Australia and then work in agriculture in Cambodia.

“I would like to be part of changing the way things are in Cambodia in the future,” she says.

Full list of selected CCF students:
Thy Rina, 15
Chhoun Mei Neang, 16
Roeum Phearun, 18
Soun Sila, 17
Chroek Srey Ky, 16

Kate Ginn/CCF

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