“I am off to pursue my dream.” These were the words of one of CCF’s star students Roon Sophy as she stood on the verge of the biggest adventure of her life.
On Thursday night, Sophy, 21, said goodbye to her family, friends and country to embark on something she could imagine happening: studying university abroad.
Awaiting her is a new life in Australia, where she will attend Trinity College and then the University of Melbourne to study business on a full scholarship.
Her achievement is notable by any standards. But from where Sophy started and how far she’s come, it’s quite remarkable.
Ten years ago, Sophy was a scavenger working among the filthy and filth and stench of the garbage dump in the Steung Meanchey district of the city. Each day was a fight for survival. Up at dawn with her siblings to pick through other people’s rubbish for little money, life was a constant struggle.
Then Sophy met Scott Neeson, CCF’s founder, on the dump one day. At the age of 11, she went to the school for the first time.
Given a chance to learn in a supportive environment, Sophy thrived and excelled at her studies.
“If it was not for Scott, I would not be here,” says Sophy.
“If I had not gone to CCF, I don’t think that I would have come this far.”
Surrounded by her loved ones, Sophy said her farewells at Phnom Penh International Airport as she prepared for the next chapter of her extraordinary journey.
It was hard to leave her seven siblings and parents. Her feelings were a mixture of excitement, anticipation and nerves at what lies ahead.
There will be challenges, she admits – not least the culture shock and getting use to Australian weather and food – but she is quietly confident of overcoming any new obstacles.
Watching with pride was her mother Kong Samey. While sad at seeing her daughter go, she says: “I am so proud of my daughter and I am happy for her.”
Sophy’s message to fellow CCF students and anyone following a dream is: “Don’t be afraid and try to your best.
“You can’t see your future so take on any chance or opportunity you have. That’s what I did.”
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