Spotlight on… Sophanna, Volunteer Superstar
“Life is a journey of struggles. Yet, if we try hard, I believe it is a beautiful journey of struggles.” – Sophanna, CCF volunteer
If you’ve ever read articles criticising volunteering in Cambodia and had doubts over whether volunteers can truly contribute to an NGO, you should meet Sophanna, the focus of this month’s Spotlight feature. A remarkable young Cambodian who has faced and overcome many of the same challenges our own students face, he wanted to give something back by teaching in our Community Youth Leadership Development program.
After struggling financially throughout his difficult childhood, Sophanna is now a business development specialist and spends his free time helping CCF students become community leaders. He teaches weekly workshops on leadership, communication, and problem solving. “My biggest motivation is to help those who share similar experience to what I had before.” says Sophanna. “By sharing knowledge, I am optimistic that I can help transform students into better citizens who can become leaders of both their lives and their community.”
Sophanna, like many of our own CCF students, had a rough start to life. His mother struggled to support the family on her own, scratching out a living. From an early age, Sophanna knew that learning English would become a bridge to a better future so he enrolled in English classes.
But when the $30 monthly tuition fees became impossible for his family in 2008, Sophanna gave up his studying to help earn money and support his family. “I paused my English for nearly two months. But then one day, my classmates and teacher came to my home, and left me a letter. The letter stated that my classmates wanted to see me come back to learn, and that my teacher would pay for my English classes,” says Sophanna. “It was a very special moment and I will never forget the gratefulness from my family during this time for my teacher’s support and the warmth of my classmates.”
Not only that, but Sophanna used another of his talents to support himself, by becoming a star player in a football team. His payment was 25kg of rice a month, enough to feed his family while he pursued his dreams. Later, having established his own career, he looked for a way to give something back. He’d heard of CCF’s work and went through our rigorous application process, where we ensure that every volunteer has real skills that will make a meaningful difference, before beginning his workshops.
“My favourite moment as a volunteer happened on the first day I joined the class. The students showed me their faces full of motivation, dynamics, not-giving up spirit to their lives. It was a touching moment I cannot forget,” says Sophanna.
Our students cannot speak highly enough of their mentor. “When my team asks Sophanna a question his answers are helpful. I want to study with him because his answers are clear and he always opens his mind for me and my classmates,” says one in the video below.
Thank you for volunteering with us Sophanna. Your story is inspiring and we are so happy that CCF students have the opportunity to learn from you and be inspired by how you overcame your own challenges.
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