Categories
Community Work Personal

Turning 34: My birthday celebration for a school cause

On weekend, a day after International Women Day (IWD) celebration, I met my 5 years old niece and I wanted her to practice her English learning at school. Then I asked her to start the conversation. Her first question to me was: How old are you?

With work, meetings, and celebrations around IWD, my brain was a bit slow to run with number and only after a while, then I realized I would turn thirty-four in coming days. Then I thought back in time and how ages and circumstances matter:

I got a dream when I turned ten: I wanted to be a doctor. It was just imagination but I wanted to be a famous doctor in Cambodia and if possible in the world to cure poor people. As I am a left-handed person, I wished that I could use this left hand to cure people effectively.

Then my dream changed. When I turned twenty I started an internship with a civil society organization instead of pursuing the nursing degree that could fulfill my dream. This was the pathway that totally changed my vision. Ten years later, I am obsessed with civil society work and social media platforms, and I have realized that this is who I want to be, not the doctor I had dreamt to become.

However, putting my life-path back to the intersection where I turned my back to a medical doctor career, probably other scenario could have happened. I might have been satisfied with myself or not, but I keep joking about that: probably those who know me now would have been my clients for medical service, or maybe we would have not met in this life-path.

Indeed, my dream changed due to circumstances. It was the family’s livelihood reason and the fact that I could not afford to learn French language since young age so that I could well prepare for medical school examination, instead I could only manage to get pass for nursing school.

I looked back to my niece and responded to her so that she would know my age by now. Looking at her, it fills with full conviction in me that I would do my best to support her to fulfill her dream.

Suddenly, when I turned to my mobile and surf through Facebook, a news came up on my wall: an educational center for poor students run by a renown Cambodian journalist would be soon facing a closure. The news hit my heart strongly as I have followed the news about the school sometimes and I was impressed at how generosity and commitment that the journalist and his friends help to support young kids in a rural village of Svay Rieng province. The school have helped to educate a number of poor kids with English and computer skills for free of charge and that allows those poor kids and their parents to support them to educational opportunities. I believe those kids has their dream and with opportunity support, I hope their dream could come true.

Therefore, I now have a wish to celebrate my 34th birthday: that you all join my cause to support this school. The center would need at least 900$ to operate monthly to help educating about 200 kids. Hence, to celebrate my birthday, I call for your gift so that the collected amount will go to the cause for supporting this school operation (see photos of the school and its activities below).

I will start collecting my birthday gift from now until 30th March when I will really turn 34. Gift me with three numbered—which could be $3 or $34 or more—for “My Thirty-Four Birthday Celebration”!

Your gift will be properly collected, recorded and managed with transparency and accountability. Click here to gift me. Thanks to the Cambodian Center for Human Rights who kindly support this cause and allow the cash flow to go through its donation page. Hence, please kindly help to specify your donation with subject/note: For Sopheap’s Birthday Cause if you choose to donate online via this platform.

Alternatively, please contact me via [email protected] for any inquiry about this cause or way of donation.

(Photo courtesy to the school founder May Titthara and Khmernas)

Categories
Community Work Enviromnment Risk Management System

A nature of love and a must to conserve: Cambodia’s Chi Phat Eco-tourism

People would need a space for an escape from their routine life and environment sometimes. So did I when I managed to have a weekend escape with my partner in late August 2014 to Koh Kong province where this turned to be the greatest escape weekend ever in our lives. However it was not a really proper escape as when you would suddenly met the person you have known: I met a participant attending blogfestasia—in which I co-organized in 2012—on the mini-bus and he just sit next to me. Our conversation started with where and what was our plan to do in Koh Kong province. Another newly met middle-age man sitting after him started to jump in our conversation about tourist spots and his community work as Areng community activist. I was first thinking in my head: What an escape I had now, as this was a familiar discussion in almost day-to-day operation!

Suddenly the man introduced us to visit Chi-Phat community. Without any clue of this area but an Eco-tourism spot that managed by community, we did not think long but thanked him for guiding us the location:

It was a bout an hour drive from Sre Ambel toward to Koh Kong province and there will be sign a long the national road noting “Community-based Eco-tourism, Chi Phat”. Then we could take motor-taxi or boat to reach the area. We took motor-taxi that would take 30-45 minutes depending on road condition after the rain for example. After that we need to cross a small canal which it just took us few minutes. Then, it is about 500 meter where the community-based office is located and they could explain us further about the sites and plan together the spot visits. A two or three night-stay is recommended. Find out more the accommodation means, which they offer alternative and interesting affordable choices.

Here I came to stay at a very nice bungalow:

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A great stay at Chi Phat Bungalow (Photo by the Author)
A great stay at Chi Phat Bungalow (Photo by the Author)

There were many tourist spots but I could only visit few of them given my accidental plan that allowed only a night stay there. Yet, it is still the worthwhile adventure ever. We had done hiking in the forest to see the beauty of many waterfalls:

Chhay Khpus in Chi-Phat Eco-tourism. Chhay mean 'waterfall' for Chi-Phat residents. (photo by author).
Chhay Khpus in Chi-Phat Eco-tourism. Chhay mean ‘waterfall’ for Chi-Phat residents. (photo by author).

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Then we could do another adventure on the motorbike to O-malou waterfall and at some point we had to stop and walk along the motorbike as the road condition would not allow and I feel it would be best to do hiking (yet it is a bit far as it took us more than an hour). There I called it a hidden beauty waterfall.

O-malou Waterfall, the hidden beauty. (photo by author) DSC_1265 DSC_1243 DSC_1215 DSC_1210

I could not help myself to be trapped under this hidden beauty and amazed at the combination nature of love as this ecosystem complement and treat each other well to make a lively creature on earth. Having seen this and aware of many illegal logging and natural resource destruction which some were under the so-called claim of development (that environmental and social impact assessment were often neglected and conducted in a secret manner), I encourage everyone to visit the place and join hand with communities to support their force in protecting and promoting the nature, such as save the Areng Valley for example, so that it could return us back with healthy life and our children could have the chance to live with these remaining natures. I could see the potential model of Eco-tourism where it could generate income for government as well as the support directly to communities and such model shall be repeated in other places for the better off for both nature and people.

Find out more and how to contact Chi-Phat community via http://www.chi-phat.org/ (the same for http://www.ecoadventurecambodia.com)

Categories
Community Work Development & Education Personal

??????????? ?????????????????? (Dare to Dream and Dare to Change)

(The English version is available after the Khmer text)

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??????????????? ??????????? ??????????????????

Your life pathway can be blur yet you have to move on to the direction you are envisioned. (Photo by the author in 2013 at Rubber Plantation in Kampong Cham Pronvince). (cc-2013, Sopheap Chak)
Your life pathway can be blur yet you have to move on to the direction you are envisioned. (Photo by the author in 2013 at Rubber Plantation in Kampong Cham Pronvince). (cc-2013, Sopheap Chak)

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English Version:

After the recent high school examination result released, the students must be now seeking for their future path, I therefore would like to share a piece of lesson from my personal life with the hope that this can somehow contribute to your food of thought:

My Philosophy: Dare to Dream and Dare to Change

I had a dream since I was 3 years old that I could be a famous left handed doctor to help curing poor people. As I am a left handed writing type of person, I had that vision and I was good in biology yet I was not well prepared to jump into this major as I have no relatives who are doctors nor anyone could advise to study French in younger age. So when time come, I could only manage to pass the nursery examination on my own [referring to the climate that majority seats were already allocated with bribery], not the high level of medical university.

My parents advised me that it would take years (probably up to 10 years) with much financial resource to make my dream realized. With financial resource limited, I have no choice but I did not regret and I must thank my parents for supporting my life path to move on in another lane of dream, which was to start an internship with a civil society organization. It was the pathway that has changed my vision totally up to present time. I am now becoming obsessed with civil society work and social media platform and I have realized this is the real type of me, not the doctor I had dreaming about.

However, putting my life-path back to the intersection where I had turned my way to medical doctor career, probably other scenario would has happened and I may satisfied with myself or maybe not, and I kept making a joke around that probably those who have known me now maybe become one of my clients for medical service or we could not meet in this life-path.

This piece of shared lesson is aimed to prove that anyone of us can dream about our life and could make that dream come true at certain point but although your dream may have changed, do not feel discouraged to stop dreaming. You must continue revisit your dream and make another possible dream realize and who know, probably the dream you used to dream about is not the real dream or unless you make that happen.