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When Pech* was 10 years old he moved with his parents and one of his sisters to live in Sihanoukville. The family was very poor and his parents had hoped to find work in the city. His two other siblings remained with their grandmother as it was not possible for his parents to support all four children.

Like many poor families that migrate to Sihanoukville they came with the hope to earn more money and have a better life. Pech’s parents however were only able to find occasional work on construction sites as day laborers. Even at a young age, Pech and his sister helped out by collecting recyclable bottles on the roadside to earn extra money.  There was never enough money to send the children to school.

M’Lop Tapang’s social workers first met Pech when he was 11 years old during a visit to the neighborhood he and his family lived in. His parents were very happy to learn that Pech and his sister could attend “catch up” classes at our Education Center for children that have never been to school before or had dropped out at an early age.  While his sister did well in the classroom, Pech struggled in the new environment and was never really happy attending school. For a few of years he attended classes off and on before, much to his parent’s disappointment, he told them he wanted to stop altogether.

The Outreach Team continued to work with Pech’s family who were very worried about their son’s future.  When offered the opportunity to learn a job skill instead of going to school, Pech, by then 15 years old, decided he would join our vocational training program to study cookery.  Over the next two years he trained at Sandan, M’Lop Tapang vocational training restaurant for disadvantaged youth, where he has learned cooking and service fundamentals.

Last months ago, as part of his training, 17 year old Pech entered into an internship at a five-star hotel in Sihanoukville.  At his placement Pech quickly impressed his supervisors and was offered a full-time job in their kitchen.   For the first time in his life Pech now has safe, steady employment. When we met with his new employers they were extremely happy with Pech’s performance, willingness to learn, attitude, and punctuality.

With a post-probation salary of $120/month Pech is now able help him parents financially a little bit but also has gained a tremendous amount of self confidence and is much happier than he was before. His parents tell us that when he comes home from work he is excited to tell them about his day and the new skills he is learning. They are proud of the young man he has become and now see a brighter future for their son.

*name and photo changed for confidentiality