If one were to choose three qualities that best describe Saroeung, a former student currently working as CFI’s Finance Assistant, they would have to be hard-working, entrepreneurial, and independent.
When she’s not overseeing CFI’s finances, Saroeung is a full-time student of Management at Build-Bright University and also works part-time as an English teacher with Seed, another organization in Battambang. With the income from her two jobs, Saroeung is able to support herself and her three siblings.
When Saroeungfirst came to CFI in 2011, she was in a much different position. Her caretakers were violent towards each other, she had little or no access to food, and the possibility of forced migration to Thailand was real and getting worse as she approached adolescence. Needing to intervene, CFI relocated Saroeung to its now-discontinued residential program, where she lived for five years. During that time, CFI enrolled Saroeung in public school, provided daily meals at the learning center, and guaranteed that she had access to decent healthcare and emotional support.
During her middle school years, Saroeung’s entrepreneurial spirit began to reveal itself. Every day, she would prepare mini sweetcakes before school and sell them to her fellow students. She would also buy unpolished rice, polish it, and sell it at the market for a small profit. Saroeung says that earning money gave her a sense of pride, since it allowed her to help support her studies and her family.
When the residential center was closed in 2015, Saroeung transitioned into the Independent Living program and, shortly thereafter, began to support herself. Today, with the exception of a university scholarship through CFI, Saroeung is living completely independently.
And, her entrepreneurial spirit is still in full force. When she graduates, she wants to gain some real-life management experience at a local organization before starting her own business in the education sector.
With much of her time spent at the learning center, Saroeung sets an incredible example for her younger peers. We hope to see all of the CFI’s 251 students flourish into such remarkable young adults.