Meet Ms. Pon Dinha
Dina is the second daughter from a family of 5 members, 2 girls and 1 boy, from a tiny village about half hour’s drive from the town of Siem Reap. Her father, Pin Rom, 50 years old, is a school teacher and the Principal of Don Reach primary school in the village. He has been teaching for over 20 years in this village school, and his salary began at 30,000 riel a month (about $7.75 cents) but now he is earning $100 a month. Besides working as a teacher, he also works in the rice fields, planting rice, and many other kinds of crops in order to earn more money to support his family. He is a committed man when it comes to work and he is willing to work hard all the time in order to put food on the table.
However, 18 months ago, he was climbing a tree picking fruit, and fell fracturing vertebrae. Since then he has had to have time off work, plus pay large medical expenses. His health has declined over all since his accident, though he does not complain. Being a teacher has made Rom very wise and he is able to give good advice to his students at school, as well as his own children. Moreover, he is never involved with alcohol, gambling or domestic violence. He has always been a good husband and father for the family. In addition, her mother Su Vorn, 45 years old is a housewife and always keen to work. While she stays at home to look after the children, she also feeds their pigs, chickens and ducks. With these animals she is able to earn extra money to support her family. The family does not earn a lot of money; however they are just earning enough to keep their heads above the water.
When Dina was studying in grade 10 in 2010, her family situation worsened. The family could not afford for Dina to continue her studies. Her elder sister was also forced to drop out of high school before she could graduate. Therefore, the only thing Dina could do was find a job instead of continuing her studies. She was offered a job as an unofficial teacher at a primary school, receiving about $60 per month, working 8 hours, 6 days a week. Although it was such a long day at work for a very small wage, she was still pleased because she was able to help her family. She worked in the same job for over 18 months and then moved to Siem Reap town to find another job with a higher wage.
Feeding Dreams employed Dina as an assistant cook, where she works hard, but the hours also allowed her time to study so that she was able to submit her enrolment form to complete the high school national examination (Grade 12) at the end of 2014. As a result of her hard work, she passed the examination despite the many other students who failed due to the change in way testing was undertaken last year.
Dina also studies English and Computer at Feeding Dreams later in the afternoons, after her cooking duties are completed. Dina takes every opportunity to improve herself.
Dina’s monthly wages are barely enough for her rent payments of a small dinghy room in Siem Reap, daily expenditures and food in Siem Reap. A small amount of remaining money is sent home to support her family and also to contribute to her younger brother’s education.
Dina has now moved into the role of Kindergarten teacher/carer, and is doing one amazing job!