My name is Channary, I graduated from the JWOC Scholarship Program in 2011 and wanted to share my story with you. I was born and raised in Phnom Penh, unfortunately when my parents divorced, I was unable to continue my studies as there was not enough money to support both my sister and I. When my father remarried my step-mother was strongly against my studies and wanted me to help her with housework instead. However, I persisted.

I spoke to all of my school teachers and explained my situation, I promised them that I would work hard and even offered to clean the classrooms after each lesson. One by one my teachers allowed me to join their classes for free. They even gave me extra money for school supplies.

However, my stepmother was determined that I shouldn’t continue my studies so my sister and I were forced to move in with my grandmother. My grandmother supported our living expenses and my father would send extra money from time to time. I joined high school and excelled in my studies, my sister and I were happy. Everyday we ate with my grandmother and spent time with her, very grateful of her contribution to us.

Channary Chea (2018)

Sadly, my grandmother died after a year and my sister and I were too scared to return back to our father’s home because we knew the life that awaited us was far below what we deserved. So, we contacted an uncle who lived in Siem Reap and he invited us to live with him and offered to pay our high school studies.

When I graduated from high school, I wanted to join university yet I was unsure of which steps to take, so I asked my father to support my fees for my first year of university and I would pay for the rest of my studies. I then began searching for a supporting job, I had heard that Journeys Within Bed n’ Breakfast were looking for a receptionist, so I applied hoping that I would be able to save money for university and support my sister but also improve my English. During my interview with Andrea and Brandon (JWOC Founders), they asked me if I was a JWOC Scholarship Student, I was excited to hear about a possible scholarship opportunity. She explained the program and how JWOC Scholarship Students would receive trainings and would be able to work and support the communities.

Looking back I am most grateful for the trainings I received as a student because it gave me the confidence to apply for a job with no prior experience. I very was worried that because I had no previous working experience I would not be eligible for a proper job, but I was able to use my training and volunteer experience with JWOC to my advantage. To this day I still use the skills I learnt, especially from the networking trainings, there is no other place I would have gained any of those skills from.

Channary provides Hygiene supplies to a community member (2011)

I now work as a Project Coordinator and Office Manager for an NGO that focuses on education. My projects specializes in Scholarship and Youth Development which is an area that I am very passionate about because I know exactly what these students are going through and how hopeless you can feel. It makes me so happy to know that I am giving back and working with my community everyday, and that I am part of a solution.

Looking at how far JWOC has grown, I am so happy to have been a part of it, sometimes I think about how different my life would have been if I never went for that interview, but I am glad I did. The scholarship not only transformed my life but allowed me to support my sister to gain an education. I am thankful to JWOC and I am thankful to everyone who played a part in building this organization because it changed my life.

With gratitude,
Channary Chea

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