Eight Years of Migration and Child Labour - The story of a girl's education once robbed, now restored

Solang wants to go to school like the other girls.

But for around eight years, she had been migrating between Cambodian provinces with her family as they tried to improve their livelihoods. To help her family, she worked more than 8 hours a day. “I worked for a Chinese factory, and I was responsible to collect the pipe. I could earn 10,000 Riel (about SGD 3.20) per day.” Solang said.

Despite the family’s hard work, their circumstances never seemed to improve. The family often did not have enough food to eat and Solang suffered from malnutrition. The eldest daughter of the family, 14-year-old Solang is small and underdeveloped for her age. Her family was afflicted by poor hygiene, nutrition and domestic violence.

Sokheng, Solang’s mother, shares: “When talking about my past, I want to cry. Sometimes I [had] no food and my child [was] also sick. I didn't have money. I loaned from a neighbour or relative, but they [couldn't] give it to me because we [were all] very poor."

Fortunately, their family was selected by World Vision’s Graduation Based Social Protection Project, and received resources and training to better their lives. They were provided with 15 hens and 20 chicks, alongside sachets of medicine, a watering station and nets to take care of the chickens. They also underwent training in technical and life skills, such as creating a family vision, financial literacy, business planning, child protection, and promoting health and nutrition.

After being in the programme for two years, their family situation has improved. They can sell chickens to earn money and send their children to school. Solang is very excited to go to school after her parents decided to stop migrating and return home. Though she is a few years behind her studies (as a 14-year-old studying in grade 4), she works hard and achieves good results in school.

Solang believes that education can change her life and ultimately benefit her family. "I am happy! I can go to school, and I think when I have knowledge, I can have a good job to support my parents and family," Solang said.

Her mom Sokheng is now supportive of Solang’s education. "I want my kids to go to school because I am not educated; I can't read and write. So, I will fight for my three kids and encourage them to go to school.” Sokheng declared.

The road ahead for Solang remains uncertain, but with her family and community supporting her, Solang can look towards a brighter future.

Written By: 
World Vision Singapore