Meet Ms. Chan Srey Roth

Teacher : Srey Roth

My name is Chann Srey Roth. I was born in the village of Romeas, Kampong Chnang Province in 1988.

I have 7 brothers and sisters. I did have 12 siblings, but four of them died, all males. My father’s name is Chann Dara and my mother’s name is Chith Sareth

I grew up in a very poor family. As a child, we all lived together in a small wooden hut. Sometimes when the rains came our house leaked – we would all get soaked and didn’t sleep well during those times because it felt very cold to us. My younger sisters and brothers would cry also but there was nothing we could do for them as we had nowhere else to go and no money to fix the hut.

I remember that we never had enough food to feed everyone in our family. Sometimes things were so bad we could not even make rice porridge to share. I also remember that in one year there was no rain, so we were unable to plant any rice.

Not only that, but many trees and other plants died as well during that time. Rice was our main source of food, so that meant we were often starving. We would have to go and search for food in the forest. Some things you had to cook in a certain way, otherwise it would poison you. Many people became very sick because they ate poisonous food as there was no rice. One year later, our family was still suffering from the lack of food. We didn’t have enough clothes to wear as there was no money to buy anything.

We just wore the same torn or dirty clothes over and over. When I was six years old I started school in Grade 1 at Romeas Primary School, which was about four kilometres from my house. We had to get up very early (around 5am) to help around the house, then walk to school by 8am. Our family could not even afford to buy one bicycle. After class, as we were walking home, we would climb fruit trees and pick guavas and choo choo fruit. We would take it home, put it in plastic bags, then go and sell it by the road near the drain, and at the markets. Sometimes I would put water into plastic bags and sell this to people who passed by. We would chop wood and sell this as firewood. When the rains did arrive, my parents would plant fruits and vegetables around the house because selling the harvest was the way they made their money. We could earn 2,000-8,000 riel per day ($0.50 – $2.00USD per day). We tried to make more money but it was very hard for us.

Then, in 2005 I moved on to Secondary School. During this time, my family still experienced poverty and hardship. Some of my older brothers and sisters had grown up so they were able to work and make money to support our family. Three years later in 2008 I upgraded my studies into High School.

I was very busy with my study at that time because I was afraid I would fail if I did not study hard. One day I went to meet the teacher and asked for an additional free class, which was approved. I was very fortunate because the teacher knew my family was poor and agreed not to charge me any money. I was very happy and it gave me the confidence to continue my studies. Finally, when my final exam came I passed all my subjects. Everybody in my family was so happy for me and they were all very proud. After I passed my exam in Year 12, my brothers, sisters and parents wanted me to go to Phnom Penh to continue study at university. I didn’t want to go to Phnom Penh because I knew my family didn’t have enough money to support me and I was worried this would be too much of a burden on them. The costs included clothes, school fees, study materials, food and rent. I was also concerned about being in a big city alone, and felt very scared. But, my parents encouraged me a lot and gave me the motivation and reassurance I needed, and so I went to Phnom Penh.

I met many obstacles there but tried to do my best. During the first month I was feeling very sad and frustrated because I was very homesick, and the city was too noisy and busy for me. I decided to get a job teaching in a private school, teaching Khmer/English. I was paid $40USD per month – not a lot but it was better than nothing and helped me to survive while I studied. About four years later I finished my study – I wanted to study further but this was impossible due to my poor financial situation.

I moved to Siem Reap and was so happy to work as a Kindy teacher at Feeding Dreams Cambodia. From that role, I have now moved to teaching Morality lessons to all students, Counselling, and First Aid Assistant.