For the occasion of the Khmer new year, Borann has accepted to testify.
“My name is Borann, I am 28 years old, and I am Cambodian. I was born in a warm family in a small village next to the Thai border, in the province of Banteay Mean Chey (ខេត្តបន្ទាយមានជ័យ) to be precise. I come from an extremely poor family of 6 children. Despite this, my parents have always wanted us to go to school. I would call them heroic because they sacrificed themselves for us.
But in the end, there was only me that could push myself all the way to university. I did everything I could to get there because I told myself that only education could help me lift myself out of poverty, first me then my family! As there are no middle schools next to my parent’s house, I had to leave at 11 years old to be able to continue my studies, the age at which most of the children in my village stopped school.
My aunt and grandmother were able to take me in for almost 10 years. They are now gone far, very far away: I believe they are living in paradise! My parents are currently farming rice in our village. I send them money as soon as I can: this allows them to pay for food, bills, and other things.
My two sisters work with their husbands in Thailand as construction workers and my two brothers farm rice in the same province as my parents. I have another brother who is working as a chef in a small restaurant in Siem Reap, the province host to the temple of Angkor Wat. Everyone is married: I am the happy uncle of 9 nephews and nieces!
I heard about Children of the Mekong when I was in high school, at 17 years old. I had an aunt who was widowed and very poor and she was sponsored by Children of the Mekong.
At that point, I went by bike to the centre of Sisophon to ask for more information. After having passed the entry exam to benefit from supplementary classes, I was finally selected as an external student (meaning I was able to follow classes at the Children of the Mekong centre but I wasn’t sponsored yet).
I officially became sponsored through Children of the Mekong in 2013. I was put in contact with an amazing woman, very generous and kind who sponsored me for 5 years.
My wonderful sponsor is Anne, she is very kind, sociable, friendly, independent and open-mind. She always makes those around her laugh! We wrote to each other once every semester. I was lucky that she answered each of my letters because she was a very busy woman. As a sponsored child, I can assure you that we are always delighted to have news from our sponsor!
For me, being sponsored is getting financial as well as moral support. During my 5 years of sponsorship with Children of the Mekong in the Phnom Penh Christophe Mérieux Centre, all of us sponsored children were pampered.
Children of the Mekong took good care of us, by offering us food, transport (a bike and a helmet), medical check-ups, personal training (philosophy, leadership) and professional (professional orientation and coachings). I was very proud and happy to be a Children of the Mekong sponsored child.
Borann, in front of the Luxembourg parc in Paris, France
Borann in Marseille, France
My sponsor often told me she was extremely proud of me, of my path and everything that I overcame in Cambodia. She told me that I adapted quickly.
I then arrived in France and met many amazing people. I met a very kind man and woman (my landlords) who kindly took me in during the first and seconds lockdowns in France. What a journey! Since my arrival in France, I was able to meet with my sponsor many times and we have a great relationship.
I am now working as a tech engineer (Admin Salesforce) at the French Children of the Mekong offices in Asnières-sur-Seine, near Paris, to pursue my studies in digital transformation and system information expertise at the Nuum Factory, in Lyon in the South of France.
To define the working environment in the Asnières offices I would simply say “It’s perfect at the Children of the Mekong offices!”. I am extremely lucky to be able to be a part of this team. All my colleagues are very nice, benevolent, smiling, and open. They make sure I am well settled in and I am comfortable enough to work well and chat with them. It has been two months since I’ve been working here, and I truly feel at home! I am doing my best to add value to this great charity.
Later, I would love to find a job in France to be able to have professional experience abroad. When I have had enough experiences, I will go home to Cambodia to help develop my country. In my opinion, it’s not too late. The most important thing is to orient ourselves on the right path and we must develop our capabilities to reach our goals.
Borann in front of the Eiffel Tower
THE KHMER NEW YEAR TOLD BY BORANN
The traditional sack race of the Khmer new year
During 3 days, the Khmers play traditional games in the streets!
I haven’t been able to celebrate the Khmer new year for almost 3 years. This year, because of Covid we cannot celebrate in Cambodia or France.
As a Cambodian, I would like to say “រីករាយបុណ្យចូលឆ្នាំថ្មីប្រពៃណីជាតិខ្មែរ២០២១”, “Happy Khmer New Year”. I wish all the Khmers loads of happiness, good health and many good 2021 resolutions! Even though nothing is stable, the Covid19 pandemic is almost over! Take care of yourselves and your loved ones.
The Khmer New year is a traditional holiday in Cambodia, following the lunar calendar. Traditionally, we celebrate the Khmer new year in mid-April for 3 days (13 or 14, 15, 16) according to the lunar calendar. This period corresponds to the end of the harvest season when the farmers can take advantage of their hard work and relax before the rainy season starts.
Before the Khmer new year, Cambodians and Khmers alike prepare their homes by cleaning or even repainting their walls, putting in new curtains, and replacing old furniture. People buy new clothes. The new year is full of changes to get rid of the negative energy from the previous year and get a fresh start for the new year!
For three days celebration period « Welcome to the New year » offerings are prepared for the Angel (Tep Thida in Khmer) and placed on a table in front of the door. It’s decorated with flowers, fruit, water, and beverages to welcome the Angel into the house. The most important is food: the Angel needs it to regain strength in order to protect the house!
During the celebration, Khmers light candles and burn incence sticks, praying to the Angel of the New year to bring them luck and happiness.
The first day of the Khmer new year is Moha Songkran: it’s the end of one year and the beginning of another. That day, Cambodians dress up nicely for the occasion and prepare meals for the parents as well as meals to bring to the pagoda. This is where they pray to Buddha to bring them luck and happiness for their families and their loved ones. According to their beliefs, Cambodians wash their faces with sacred water in the morning, their chest n the afternoon and their feet before going to bed.
A meal for the Angel
The second day is Vireak Vonnabat: Cambodians present gifts to their parents and family members but also to the poor, the elderly, and children.
The third day is Vireak Loeng Sak: Cambodians bathe the statute of Buddha and create sand mountains at the pagoda. Bathing the statue is a symbolic act to wash away the “bad actions” from the previous year. At home children and grandchildren bathe their parents and grandparents to prove their love and gratefulness.
Here, grandchildren are bathing their grandparents for the Khmer new year
I am extremely grateful to Children of the Mekong who is ready to move heaven and earth to help us access education.
Thanks to them, thanks to you, I was able to have a good education that allowed me to surpass all the challenges and difficulties I encountered on my path. I would also like to thank my parents, my sponsor and my loved ones that support me from nearby or far away.
Thank you to Children of the Mekong who taught me how to give and help people in need. “Everything that isn’t given is lost,” said Father Ceyrac!
Borann also wanted to add these words: “Life is persevering. Be patient and never give up! Your efforts will pay off!” Borann
Thank you so much, dear Borann, for opening your heart to us. Congratulations on your inspiring path and your amazing moral strength! We believe in you!