By Travis Thompson
One of Ponheary Ly Foundation’s first graduates from Srayang Dorm has become part of an elite group selected for a Siem Reap cooking school. Chou Sreymao finished Grade 9 in Srayang in July 2013. She’s facing the same daunting situation all of her peers face—what to do about her future in a place with limited career and school options, many of those options unavailable to the rural poor. Sreymao moved three hours down the road to Siem Reap with some of the other graduates to study computers and other courses intensely with PLF for two months.
During that time, PLF worked with Sreymao to determine what she might want to do next in life. She told us that her passion was cooking, and she had the experience to prove it as she was part of a team that cooked daily in Srayang Dorm for 30 students. After a very competitive application and interview process, Sreymao was one of nine students in northwest Cambodia selected to become part of the next Haven cooking school class in Siem Reap in 2013-2014.
Haven provides a hands-on, on-the-job, training experience. Sreymao will focus on learning to cook western dishes in a real city restaurant for a year. In addition, the program provides her a place to live and provides her with additional classes like English and computers. Courses start in early September. PLF staff already helped her move into her new house and get settled in.
Ponheary Ly Foundation is excited for Sreymao and knows that selection into this program opens opportunities for her future which could include working in many capacities in Siem Reap, or returning to Srayang or Koh Ker to become an entrepreneur opening her own restaurant in a place where barely any exist.
The six other graduates from this year’s Srayang Grade 9 class are also making plans for their futures, and they need sponsorship to move forward. We’ll have more on them coming to the website soon.