The only girl child born to her parents, 21-year-old Sreymom Mat is the middle sibling in a family of five. Her parents are illiterate farmers who own a small plot of land, but their yield is often insufficient income, so her mother also makes akor (rice cakes) to sell in the village market.
Because of her family’s financial hardship, Sreymom’s mother suggested that she quit school after 6th grade in order to help provide additional income, but the young girl was persistent. Sreymom’s passion for education gave her courage to negotiate with her mother until a truce was found and a compromise worked out—she would help with house chores after school and study with friends at night. She joined Room to Read’s Girls’ Education program in 2004, and threw herself into her academics, recognizing the chance to stay in school as an opportunity to carve out a brighter future.
Sreymom started planning for that future while she was still in secondary school, undertaking a small business to help her save money for university. She began to raise cows as a source of income. As her cows grew so did her profits, allowing Sreymom to amass a small herd of what is now seven cows.
After graduating from secondary school and completing our Girls’ Education program in 2012, Sreymom was accepted to the Royal University of Agriculture in Phnom Penh. Now in her third year of study majoring in rural development, she lives in the city with family friends and couldn’t be happier.
In addition to caring for her cows, she also holds several part-time jobs and internships that provide her with hands-on experience in the development sector, including providing translation services to ActionAid Cambodia, performing community outreach on behalf of the Japanese International Volunteer Center and acting as a freelance research assistant.
In celebration of Sreymom’s many achievements and her steadfast dedication to education, she was invited to attend two Room to Read gala events in Hong Kong and Singapore as the guest of honor this March to share her story with packed houses of Room to Read supporters. “Without education I would never have gotten this far,” says Sreymom. “And, without Room to Read I may never have received an education.”
Read more stories in our Girls' Education Yearbook.
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