Homegrown heroes

Cambodia has long looked to international donors to fund its social development. We speak to three local Cambodians fighting to promote education and environmental awareness among the Kingdom's young generation on their own terms.

In the early afternoon of a typical working day, seated at his office desk, 38-year-old Chhim Kakada busied himself preparing for the classes that will soon begin. Aside from his full-time job at a Canadian travel agency, he also manages and runs Toul Ampil Educational Training School (TAETS), a school that focuses on underprivileged children in the suburbs of Phnom Penh.

Seated in a three-storey flat that houses his office and the school, which is currently undergoing construction to accommodate more classes, Kakada recalled the road that brought him to this point.

Growing up in a struggling family, Kakada was unable to pursue higher education after finishing high school, failing to secure a scholarship to university. He started working part time as a motor taxi driver, which he thought could help him save up for another chance at university. The job also gave him the chance to learn some English from his foreign customers. When he was dropping off customers at tourist destinations around the capital, he witnessed many children from poor families with no access to proper education, having to resort to begging for money from tourists.

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