Doeun is growing up multilingual in Cambodia

Doeun is a Grade 3 MLE student at Seung PS in Ratanak Kiri. Highly spirited and independent, her teacher thinks she is a natural leader. She has aspirations to become a teacher or a doctor and her parents encourage her to study. She loves to draw and enjoys learning both Khmer and Tampuen.

Doeun’s story in her own words

I am 8 years old and I’m in Grade 3. There are nine people in my family – my parents, me,

four older siblings and one younger sister. There are five of us girls and there’s just one boy.

Every morning I wake up, clean my face, comb my hair and get ready for school. My house is not far from here, just over the road past the mango trees.

After school I help my parents at home, collect water, wash the dishes, and help clear the bush. I don’t need to take care of my younger sister because she’s actually bigger than me.

I’m so small, I feel like I’ll never get any bigger! [Laughs.] I collect water from the spring [5 minute walk from house] in the gourds and carry them in the kapha [woven basket backpack] so that I’ll get stronger and bigger. Sometimes my family uses the water pump [installed by CARE] but we still collect water from the spring too.

My favourite subjects are Khmer and Tampuen. When the class is just in Khmer I learn a little bit, but when it’s in Tampuen I learn a lot more. When I read in Khmer it’s addictive because it’s beautiful and my teacher tells me I do a good job and encourages me.

I love to draw too. I draw waterfalls, the forest, butterflies and animals. I like drawing these things because they’ve very beautiful. Sometimes I also draw my family and the things we do at my house, like my mum doing housework. Sometimes I put my drawings up around the house but the wind normally blows them away or the other kids tear them.

My parents tell me to study hard. My older brother left school to get married and can’t read or write. My mum says not to quit school, and my future will be bright. I want to be a teacher or a doctor. But I’m afraid if I’m a doctor and I give people injections and the needle breaks, what will I do? What if I kill a kid? [Laughs.] Actually I changed my mind, I’m too scared to be a doctor, I want to be a teacher. I want to be a teacher but I’ve never told Teacher Bao this because I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to be one.

Teacher Bao is a good teacher. It’s good that he speaks Tampuen and Khmer. He explains things very well. But if we ask a question during a test he won’t give us the answer because he’s told us already! Sometimes he gets a little bit angry, but never much. I want to be a teacher when I grow up but I’ve never told Teacher Bao this because I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to be one.

*Name has been changed in accordance with CARE's child protection policy.

Learn more about CARE Cambodia's efforts to empower ethnic minority girls through education >

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See the Socially Marginalised Women program in action
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© CARE Cambodia 2018

CARE is an international development organisation fighting global poverty, with a special focus on working with women and girls to bring sustainable changes to their communities. 

Defending dignity. Fighting Poverty.