Feb 27th, 2024 02/27/24 | Community Stories

Inspiring Generations

CCF staff member Sa Roth is a on mission to encourage young Cambodians to fulfill their potential as her mum did to her

If anyone knows the power of education to give you second chances it’s Sa Roth.

At one point in life, she stood at a crossroads with two divergent paths that would lead her in opposite directions depending on her choice.

Thanks to the encouragement and support of her mum, she chose the right one but it could have been a very different outcome affecting the rest of her life.

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My mum told me that she was going to give me a second chance if I wanted to stay at school

— Sa Roth, CCF Sponsor Relations Officer

“I was not a very good student at high school. I skipped class a lot, my attendance was really low and my grades were down at that time. I failed Grade 11 and I didn’t know whether to continue my studies or leave and join the family business,” recalls Sa Roth.

“My mum told me that she was going to give me a second chance if I wanted to stay at school. At that time, everyone turned their back on me because I had failed my studies and I felt really down. My mum helped me a lot and really encouraged me. In the end, I decided to continue my education. I changed schools and started to go to school everyday and tried to study hard until I became an outstanding student in class.”

Sa Roth’s mother had missed out on an education having been born in a traditional family and time where cultural expectations meant many girls stayed at home to help with chores and young siblings.

It made her determined to see her own daughter grasp the opportunities she had never received.

Her perseverance paid off.

Sa Roth not only finished high school but won a place at university in Phnom Penh and in 2020 graduated with a degree in International Relations.

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L: TOP: Sa Roth graduated from university
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I want to help girls to pursue higher education just like me

— Sa Roth

Now aged 26, she is using her experience to inspire children at Cambodian Children’s Fund to overcome their own challenges and difficulties, and fulfill their own potentials no matter the obstacles in the way.

“Education changes your life,” says Sa Roth, whose full name is Monysoksaroth.

“It changes the way you think, look at the world, and it changes you as a person. I have experienced it myself, I know that education is very important, so I want the kids at CCF to experience it like me. I want to see them grow, to have the same opportunities as me.

I want to help, especially with the girls, I want them to pursue higher education just like me because everyone should have equal education and they also have the right to have it as well.”

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Sa Roth, second right, with her CCF sponsor team

Sa Roth is part of CCF’s Sponsorship team, acting as the go-between with sponsors and their sponsored child, facilitating contact such as emails and Skype calls and in-country outings.

She looks after 42 CCF students, aged from six to Grade 12, and is known as being wonderful with the kids and their parents. Colleagues say Sa Roth is always there to support her team and goes the extra mile for the CCF communities, volunteering to give a hand where needed to help.

Sa Roth’s sponsorship team is based in CCF’s community in the heart of Steung Meanchey where CCF works, serving some of the most impoverished children in Cambodia.

During her university third year, she interned at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs but CCF is her first job after graduating.

“My goal was to work at an NGO so I have fulfilled my goal right now,” says Sa Roth.

“I knew a little about CCF before I joined - I had a friend who worked here - and how the children and families lived in Steung Meanchey. I want to help them have a better life.”

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Sa Roth wants to encourage CCF students, especially girls, to fulfill their potential

Her job can be demanding at times but the rewards far outweigh those day-to-day challenges.

“Working with the (Sponsorship) team, they are like my second family. After my family, they are the ones I meet everyday, sharing things, helping each other with challenges,” says Sa Roth.

“Working with the kids (CCF sponsored children) has also changed my personality. Before I was reserved and did not talk much. Now I’ve become more outgoing and friendly.

“I feel like I have more younger sisters and younger brothers because of them. They come to the office and share stories about their life. I am their mum and their older sister, I feel very connected with them. It’s the best part of my job.”

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My mum is very proud of me

— Sa Roth

Sa Roth also speaks of how vital sponsors are in the life of CCF children.

“They are so important for them. They are the ones that help them to go to school and finish their studies. I hear from sponsors that by sponsoring a kid from Cambodia they get to see a new side of the world and the kids also inspire them. So they are important to each other.”

Sa Roth lives with her parents and younger sister - who is studying international business at university - and they are a very close family, enjoying each other’s company at weekends.

Her father has also been supportive of her journey. He did attend university but left after two years due to his family’s financial situation.

Sa Roth knows how lucky she is that when faced with those two paths all those years ago, she went down the right route. The family business - building swimming pools and selling equipment - is still going strong but her passion is helping others.

Her mum’s pride was palpable as she attended her university pre-graduation photograph ceremony with Sa Roth’s younger sister.

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Sa Roth, right, at her university graduation with her mum and younger sister

“She was so happy to see me graduate,” says Sa Roth.

“She always tells people that she has two daughters who have gone on to higher education. She is so proud.

“My mum is very proud of me because at one time she did not know whether I would finish my high school, go to university, and then work doing what I want. I am proud of myself too.”

Written by

Kate Ginn

Girls & Women

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