Phai Er Vuthy
My name is Phai Er Vuthy, and I am 21 years old. I was born in Kandal Province and am currently studying English at the Australian Centre for Education. I now work as an English teacher at the Kandal Community Centre, is one of ACE’s projects. I have 5 siblings: 3 sisters and 2 brothers.
My mother is 60 years old and is a farmer. My father is 65 years old and is a cowboy. I had a lot of problems, which caused my family to be unable to afford household expenses. My sister and brother gave up their education to support my family. I alone continued my studies in Phnom Penh.
When I had holidays in Grades 10 and 11, I worked in a factory to earn money for my family and school supplies. Life in a factory is not easy. I had never sewn clothes before and found my first time seeing extremely difficult. I took 2 days to learn how to sew and even after I learned I was not very quick at it. I made several mistakes which led to my team leader’s dissatisfaction, but I never gave up and always tried until I finished the job. I initially worked for 8 hours a day, but because I wanted to earn more money I extended this to 13 hours. I began working from 7am to 11am and then from 12pm to 9pm.
Once school began everything returned to normal studying. I really wanted to stop studying and return to working at the factory because I could see my younger brother and sister were sad and I wanted to help them. I also felt guilty as I believed that my family was not available to support me. My family said to me that, although we did not have very much money, studying is important. They had all stopped their studies and did not want me to follow suit. They explained a lot of their reasons to me, and by the end, I understood their intentions. My father wanted me to have a better future than him.
When I did not have school I helped my mother and sister with the housework and I looked after the other children. This gave my mother time to earn money for our household expenses. I did other tasks as well: I ran a table with my uncle at the dining room, and I helped my cousin to sell clothes at the market. In return, she would give me some money or clothes. I also looked after a cow with some children in a field in my village; we returned home with some wood to cook a meal.
When I finished Grade 12 I did not have enough money to continue my studies. Instead, I became a part-time teacher at a private school for a year. However, my life changed when I met my mother’s brother, and also one of ACE’s alumni, Mr. Sotheara. He was a resident at ACE at the time, and my mother encouraged me to apply. I decided to send my CV to ACE, and I passed the interview to become an English teacher.
I am very thankful to ACE for changing my life in the best way. I now have work to do and free accommodation. Moreover, I am especially grateful to ACE for providing me with a scholarship to study at one of the best schools in Phnom Penh: the Australian Centre for Education. I am so grateful to ACE because when I was 8 years old my dream was to become an English student and to go to university. Thanks to ACE I have accomplished this and much more than I could have ever imagined. Huge thanks to ACE – I love it so much! Thank you for all your support.