My name is Peach Koemyen. I am 28 years old. I was born in a small village, in Siem Reap province. I have two older sisters and a younger brother. Both of my older sisters and younger brother dropped out of school when they were 10 years old in grade 4. They didn’t want to stop studying, but because our family was struggling financially, they needed to work to support our family. They labored as construction workers in Siem Reap town whilst my parents worked hard as farmers.
My family was living below the poverty line so when I had free time from public school, I would collect vegetables around our house or in the forest to sell at the market. This helped me to save money for my public-school fees such as my uniform and schoolbooks, and buy food for my family as well.
When I was studying in high school, during our school break, I found a job as a construction worker in order to earn enough money to continue studying in the new semester. My parents were uneducated, and my siblings left school early because of our difficult family situation. However, my parents and siblings understood how important it was for me to get a good education. They strongly encouraged me to continue studying and complete school.
Their encouragement helped me to work hard to not give up and achieve my goals. I started free English classes at a local pagoda and NGOs. I didn’t have any transport, so I walked to school every single day and sometimes my friend came to pick me up on her bicycle. I tried as much as I could.
Finally, I completed high school. My family was so proud of me. But just finishing high school was not enough to secure fair employment. So, I wanted to continue to study at university, but I was not sure how this would be possible. When I closed my eyes, I thought about my family, and this gave me hope. I decided to apply for a scholarship from an NGO in Siem Reap and was successful in my application.
During university, I was working in a hotel and on my one day off from work, I volunteered for the NGO that granted me my scholarship. I also volunteered for clean water project working with poor villagers to get clean water to drink. During my time volunteering, I loved working alongside people and seeing the difference that could be made. So, I decided to change my job in the hotel and work in the development sector. I worked for NGOs from 2015 until 2020. Unfortunately, after many years of hard work, I lost my job because of COVID-19.
But after that, something great happened. REACH provided me with a great opportunity to join their team in Siem Reap as a social worker working closely with children and their families. I am so excited to work with REACH to learn new things, helping families and children to have a better future. I am very happy to help my community.