For inspiration in her life and career, Moutita Than has no need to look any further than her own father, who worked as a doctor for a charity in Cambodia.
Moutita has taken up the family mantle and is carrying on the caring with Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF), giving back to her country and helping the next generation to achieve their dreams.
Moutita, 24, works as a Sponsor Relations Officer, acting as the go-between sponsors and their sponsored CCF child.
She works with older CCF students, at high school or university.
Fresh-faced and with an infectious giggle, Moutita looks younger than her 24 years and many of the CCF university students she deals with are older than her. But her youth and friendly manner enable her to relate to their lives.
In turn, they feel comfortable sharing their daily ups and downs with her.
“Some of them think of me as their friend. They open up about their life and story so I can get close to them,” says Moutita.
Moutita is part of the Neeson Cripps Academy Sponsorship team. They’re a close-knit unit, who regard each other as family.
My dad was very supportive in terms of providing me with an education
Family is important to Moutita.
She grew up in Phnom Penh and describes a happy childhood with her parents and older sister, who was 16 and at high school when she was born.
Her doctor father worked at an NGO in Cambodia and encouraged his daughters to aim academically high.
“My dad was very supportive in terms of providing me with an education, he always told me to keep reading books and go to school,” says Moutita.
“It turned out that I really liked school. I was a good student and studied hard.”
While at university, she took the opportunity to learn more about organizations in Cambodia working on the ground to improve the lives of vulnerable children and families in need.
Moutita volunteered and interned at various companies and organizations, including World Vision, where her father had worked.
“I started to learn more about how an NGO works. I got inspired,” she says.
In her last year at university in 2019, she joined CCF.
While she was born and raised in Phnom Penh, she wasn’t aware of the extent of deprivation at Steung Meanchey, around the former landfill where CCF works, and the children living there who struggle to access basic education.
“I learned about the history of how Scott [Neeson, CCF’s founder) came to establish the organization in a very isolated area that most people did not even know existed,” says Moutita.
“It contributes a lot to the society we are living in right now. I got impressed by the history of Scott, how he helped the children.
“I didn’t know until I joined CCF about the thousands of children here who need a lot of education, a lot of support, that we don’t even know about it.”
I am very happy to be part of an organization which has helped a lot of poor children become better with education
She talks about the incredible achievement of Ron Sophy, a former CCF student who grew up working and living on the rubbish dump and never went to school until she was 10, who went on to win a scholarship to study in Australia and is now taking a degree at the University of Melbourne.
“Seeing her made me so proud of how a very little kid who grew up in an environment that prevented you from growing, made it. It’s very admirable,” says Moutita.
“How she got the chance to study abroad, it’s amazing.”
Moutita hasn’t had the chance to travel overseas yet. Top of her list to visit when she does is London.
Even in her free time, Moutita also helps others by working part-time as an online English teacher for kids in Cambodia.
Outside of work, she enjoys listening to music and watching Korean, Japanese and American movies, and visiting her big sister, 40, and two nephews who live in the province.
Moutita lives with her parents in Phnom Penh and says her focus for now is looking after them. Her dad, now retired, is not in the best of health and now it’s her turn to take care of him, she says.
For the long-term future, she wants to go one step further than her father and set up her own project helping kids in Cambodia ‘that people don’t even know exist’.
“Like kids in the countryside, because they have a very hard time accessing education,” she explains.
Working at CCF has helped me become a better person
Working for CCF is giving her the grounding to change other’s lives - and it’s changing her too.
“Working at CCF has helped me become a better person. I used to be very quiet, I didn’t know how to talk to people, and I was impatient,” says Moutita.
“Now I am a totally different, nicer person. I am contributing to making my society better too.”
Her dad, who dedicated his own life to helping others, must be very proud.