Kimsorn Ngam, Research and M&E Officer at This Life Cambodia

Kim’s amazing achievements are a testament to his hardworking and innovative nature. While other kids played and spent time with their families on weekends, Kim would ride his bike 30 kilometres to Angkor Wat to practice English with foreigners. After completing his education at a government school, Kim received a scholarship to study agriculture in Thailand based on his good command of the English language. While his mum was excited about this, because she wanted him to be a farmer like herself, this wasn’t what he envisioned for his life.

Unsure about what he wanted to do, he spent some time working in a bar on Siem Reap’s Pub Street to improve his English and to help him understand city life.  His humanitarian drive led him to begin volunteering with an organisation that supported his home town and eventually resulted in him becoming the director of an orphanage with almost 60 children. Unfortunately,  in what has become a familiar story in Cambodia, Kim began to realise that this orphanage had a very dark side. Children had to perform for tourists and the orphanage told fake stories about them.  They were not allowed to talk about how they missed their parents and how unhappy they were.  Donations were siphoned off by the foreign owner. The lies and lack of transparency were too much for Kim so he left.

Kim then worked as a nursing advisor assistant with Volunteer Service Organization (VSO) at a Siem Reap referral hospital before joining This Life Cambodia as Research, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer. 

Kim found his calling at TLC – he’s been here for five years – and is impressed by the fact that TLC empowers local staff.  He loves the TLC vision and the way staff engage and consult with local communities.  Despite the country’s devastating history, the economy and infrastructure are improving and he is encouraged by Cambodia’s bright future.  Young people are becoming more savvy, critical and educated through the rise of the internet and social media and this in turn will continue to promote stronger democracy.

In 2016,  Kim’s work at TLC led him to being granted a place in the prestigious and competitive Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), President Obama’s signature program to strengthen leadership development and networking in ASEAN countries.  He spent six weeks in Washington, D.C. and feels that this program developed his leadership skills, independence and confidence. 

Kim’s story goes to show that life can lead you in directions that you cannot predict. By learning from experience, keeping an open mind and working hard, life will take you to where you’re meant to be.

This profile of Kimsorn Ngam was written by Alissa Lucas, a member of a group of law school students from University of Newcastle, Australia that participated in an internship at This Life Cambodia. 

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