Written and photographed for Aziza Ghori Foundation.
See original samples here.
The mission of Aziza’s Place is to promote the holistic growth of underprivileged children by providing a nurturing home environment, public school and supplemental education, and development programs focused on healthy lifestyle and community involvement . We envision AP graduates possessing the skills and values to to become actively leaders and role models in their communities, economically self sufficient and socially empowered.
Growing Up at Aziza’s Place
The lives of each of our residents were intrinsically changed the moment they walked through the colorful painted gates at Aziza’s Place (AP). Each child came to us from a unique background and some came from vulnerable situations and lifestyles. As they come of age today, its important for all of us to take a moment and reflect on the journey they have taken to be where they are now. Unfortunately in Cambodia today, their story of childhood poverty, labor and hardship is not unique. As these children envision their future we also support them to keep their feet firmly rooted in the culture and actively involved in the community.
The process of acknowledging where we come from and the journey we took to get where we are now helps us better understand the life chapter we are currently writing. And write it they did. We asked the older residents to write their personal story for this portion of the newsletter and what better way for us to learn about their journey than to hear it in their own words? The following excerpts are selected autobiographies written by the residents, these are their memories and first-hand experiences from the moment that they arrived at AP.
My name is Chiev, I am 18 years old and I have sisters and parents. I was born in Pursat Prinvonce on April 4, 1994, then my parents move in Phnom Penh when I was 3 days old. Before I was just picking through garbage with my parent to find things to sell everyday. I never had a new day I my life. Because all days I worked. Its hard for me to talk about it, all I remember is the bad smell, the bad food, and bad water to drink. I felt dirty all the time and so ugly. Every thing was ugly. When I came to Aziza’s place I have a better live and I am thinking about my future. Now I am happy because I came to Aziza’s place to study many subjects that I want to learn. I hope someday I am rich guy and can help all the poor people to have a better life than what they had in their life before. I want to give a kid the chance to go to school and to help them have a good future life the one I am thinking of. In my future I want to be filmmaker and now I am also having some knowledge of filming and editing. So I have experience about that.
Aziza’s Place gave me 5 values: respect, honestly, caring, unity and opportunity.
Before I came to live at Aziza’s Place, I lived at Steung Mean Chey. At Steung Mean Chey there are no school and no jobs. I lived with my family when my mom went to work in the town, I had to look after my brother and sister. At night time me and my family slept in a small house. On the morning of 25.3.2007 I saw a man come into my house and he start to talk with my mom and then he come close to me and he asked me if I wanted to study and I said ‘yes.’ In the morning he came to take me to his school, then he handed me books; a pencil; a maker and white board, he told me to study hard. I was busier I had to wake up at 6 am and study there until 5 pm. One day in 7.8.2008 I saw Makara, he walked in and asked me and my Mom “Do you want to study,” and I said yes. On 8.8.2008 Makara took me to Aziza’s place. When I got here I felt excited, Then the teacher called me, he gave me a book and I felt like studying. The next day I felt I had more skills. At AP we study Karate, dance, computer, music, football, math and Khmer. I study all of the m now I have skills so it is fun to learn.
“Hello, I am Ny. This year I am 16 years old. I have one sister. I was born in Preyveng province. In the province I could only study Khmer. When I came to AP in 2007, I can study more, like Khmer, English, Math, Computer, and other subjects that Aziza’s place provides. Before coming to AP I knew nothing about the world even Cambodia.
I also went to UK in 2010. It was a very big adventure for me. In AP I also go to public school. I’m in grade 10 of the Toultompong high school. After I finish my high school, I hope I can get a scholarship to study outside of Cambodia. In the future I want to be a skilled doctor.”
“I’m Ven, I’m 18 years old. I have 3 sisters and 2 brothers. My Mom took us to Steung Mean Chey to make money, but we knew nothing about it. See every day we had to pick the trash and take it to sell. I can make 1,500 riel for one day, but it’s too hard to get 1,500 and too dangerous. I wanted to go to school, but I can’t because we had no money. Then one day I met Nader from Aziza’s Place.”