Sophal’s Story

My name is Rorn Sophal, I am 12 years old and in the sixth grade at Chrak Svay primary school in Prey Veng province. I live on a farm with my grandparents. We grow rice, chickens, ducks, pigs and cows. My parents live in Phnom Penh and work selling fruit door to door to make money so my brothers and I can go to school.

I start school at 7am each morning. To start the day all the students and teachers gather around the flag pole to raise the flag and to sing our national anthem. The students take turns raising the flag and leading the singing of the anthem. We also do some exercises to help us prepare for class and be awake and ready to learn.

I really enjoy school. My favorite class is Khmer Literature. I love to play soccer with my friends between classes.

2 years ago our school got a big water filter, nice latrines, a place to wash our hands and a place to burn trash. Before we got the big water filter I had to bring a bottle of water from home, if I drank it all I had to wait till I got home to get another drink because the water at school was bad. Now I can drink all I want at school, there is always enough water.

Before we got the latrines there was no place for us to go to the bathroom. We either had to wait till we got home or find a place to hide behind the school. Now we have really nice latrines and places to wash our hands so we don’t get sick.

When we got the new latrines our teachers began teaching us about hygiene and how to keep ourselves healthy. We learned about how to wash our hand well, with soap, and to clean under our fingernails and in between our fingers. We also learned about only drinking clean water and that the germs in dirty water can make us very sick.

I have many chores to do at home to help my grandparents. I am responsible for taking the cows out to pasture and bringing them home and for making sure they have hay and water when they are tied up at home.

We get our water from a well, but it comes out of the well very dirty and smelly, like the water used to be at the school. So we use a filter to clean our water so it is safe to drink. I am also responsible for making sure our water filter is clean and full so we have lots of clean water to drink.

I love my grandfather very much. He takes really good care of me and my brothers. Last year he built us a new latrine in our home so we had a nice private place to use the bathroom and take baths.