I had a childhood similar to many of the children Flame works with today. I started school at the age of 9 years old, as I did not have the opportunity to study before then. However, I went on to finish high school. I lived in the provinces but dreamed of moving to Phnom Penh to study at university. When I was about 19 years old, my uncle talked to me about Jesus and told me how I could pray to Him. I was going through a difficult time in life so I started praying to God about my dream. I saw God answer my prayer, and soon I was studying information technology in Phnom Penh. After moving here, I would see children collecting rubbish around midnight, and it touched my heart. I was worried for them - “how would they be able to go to school the next day?” “Were they getting good enough sleep?” Many of these children would have to stay home during the day to care for their younger siblings. I saw siblings get into a fight with knives over a bowl of rice. I would see these children finding food within the rubbish to eat, and they would still smile at me.
My dream grew from there - I knew I wanted to work with children to help them gain an education and give themselves a better future. I wanted them to know there were people who really cared for them, who valued them, who could help provide opportunities for them.
I have now been working with Flame since 2010. I started as a volunteer mentor for the first year. By the second year, I was working part time while I continued my studies. Over this time, I spent more time with these children, I listened to their issues. The children knew that we cared for them. I grew to love the students, we had a good relationship. I felt that God spoke to me to say these children did not just need money, but they also needed my time. I decided that I wanted to support these children until they were old enough to support themselves and their family. I wanted to encourage them to fly. After three years I finished my studies and began working full time there. My own family could not believe that I gave up the opportunity to work in a good career in IT. They could not see that these children were also helping me, caring for me, and giving their time to me. The work we do brings hope to them for their future. While we were teaching them mathematics, computer, and Khmer language - we were also instilling tools, and behind it all was how much we cared for them.
I now am Flame’s administrator. It is still my dream to see our students to achieve success, have a good future, and impact their own community. I have now journeyed with some students for over six years, from school to high school to university or work. When I look back, there were times with some of these students where I wasn’t sure they would continue their studies, that they would have to work to earn money for their family, or other issues would get in the way, but with our help and support they have continued on. To this day, we still spend time together encouraging one another and speaking into each others lives. This is why I work for Flame, and believe in the work we do.