“When I got my first salary check, I went and placed the entire amount in my mother’s hand and said to her, ‘This is the power of education.’”
At 24 years old, Hoeurn Him is a natural leader with a warm smile and bright eyes. As a social mobilizer for Room to Read’s Girls’ Education program in Cambodia, she is currently responsible for monitoring the progress and development of 63 girls throughout the rural province of Kampong Cham. In this role, Hoeurn visits each girl’s home on a regular basis, helps facilitate life skills sessions and keeps a close eye on the academic performance of all her young students—providing support and encouragement along the way.
As the first person ever to graduate from secondary school in her village of 300 families, Hoeurn is particularly adept at understanding and navigating the challenges girls face in her community. “During my school days my parents were not at all concerned with my education,” she says frankly. “I finished school only because I wanted to have a better life and to not have to struggle for food.”
Her status as the village’s first-ever graduate has earned young Hoeurn a great deal of respect within her community and made her parents very proud. She says she will never forget that moment when she was able to share the fruits of her labor with them.
"When my first paycheck arrived, my father and mother were quiet for a long time and had tears in their eyes," she recalls. "Now they insist that my kid sister and brother stay in school, too.”
These days, Hoeurn is the primary breadwinner for her entire family, and plans to attend University within a few years. “I hope to receive a full scholarship, but my parents would still need a little bit of money to run the house,” she says. “Because of this, I set aside half of my salary each month to prepare for when I will be studying full-time and unable to earn for them.”
After university, Hoeurn has her sights set on becoming a teacher and returning to Kampong Cham to bring technology to the schools in her area. “I know from my own experience how much education can be empowering, so I must support all girls to see that as well,” she says.
Learn more about Room to Read’s Girls’ Education program.