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Phary – Librarian, Urban Learning Center

I have been working for PLF since October 2020. It was COVID and I just lost my job from a travel agency, so it was a stressful time and I worried to support my three kids. And then I saw a job posting, seeking for a cook who can take care of high school boys at the dorm in Siem Reap. Actually, I’m not confident with that job because I think maybe they prefer someone who had experience in the restaurant before. But at the interview, Vannak told me just need a mom who can cook for the students. So that’s fine, and I really appreciate to get that job. Now I solved the problem and I had a new life for my kids. 

So I start to work hard and try to learn something new. I make a good communication with all the boys, and they become quickly like my younger brothers. When they come for meals, we eat together and we just talk, and I share my story and they talk about how they come to Siem Reap to study because it difficult to finish school in their village. 

I didn’t know much about PLF but I was really glad to hear they support poor children like that. Especially they bring rural children to the city and inspire them to complete school, to follow their imagination and work for a bright future. 

So I was happy working as cook and I do that for one year. Then Lori, she tried to select me to put in a new position as a librarian. Actually, at the time I didn’t know that PLF is quite a big organization! I think maybe they only provide education to those kids. But I see then how big it is and they are building a new learning center in Siem Reap. 

Lori said ‘I see you working hard’. And it’s true, when I do something, I respond on everything. And I am a person who love to learn new thing and seek something new to improve my skill. I already knew that librarian was the person who manage all books and help students build their reading culture. So I know it is very important. And in that position, we have to be friendly, helpful, and organised. 

And I know I am all of these. But still when she ask me, my brain was a bit worry because also the library was completely new, there wasn’t someone do this job before me can help me. But I know I can learn quickly and I do a lot of different jobs in the past that I learned new things. So she asked me again: ‘should I choose a new cook or a new librarian?’ And this time I said ‘oh, you should choose a new cook please. I will take the librarian job’.

So I started with coding the new books and understand about the inventory. I also had a big support from Christin who always guide about how to control the inventory data. Moreover, Christin provided me the chance to go to another library such as Arang School and a lot of other events related with the library, so I learned quickly from those activities.

When I was young, I always enjoyed reading, but I didn’t have much time, because my family live in the countryside and they are farmers and I always had to help them in the rice field. I liked school but when I got to Grade 12 I failed the exam because my parents didn’t have money to pay for extra classes to pass it. I didn’t have any input from them to take it again, and because I am the oldest one, I need to control all my sister and brother. So I had to give up and go to work instead. That was in 2000. I started working in the Grand Hotel d’Angkor as a waitress. My first salary was just $50 but at that time it could buy a lot of things so I can help my father and I can support all my sister and brother. 

But, I still try to study English, I study under the house and I get some free classes sometimes. I learn more English when I work in the restaurant and in the shop. And now I am really happy that PLF sponsor me to go back to English class and continue learning, and my English is improving more and more. 

The most that I love about my job is to encourage students in their reading habit. And when they want to research something new, I can inform them the right resource and inspire them to learn something beside their studying at school. And also, when they come to borrow books it can inspire their parents and younger siblings to read too. And this is how we can build the growing education in our community. 

I’m so thankful to Lori and all the team, always support me to get this position because I really so proud with myself right now because I never became a teacher before. I just work for the private company. So actually my dream was I want to help people, but I don’t have an ability to do that, but now I can help children to grow up with education. And even I didn’t have the high score at school, but I still want to learn new things even as I am older, to improve myself.

Reading is very important because it relate with education. And education is essential for everybody. It provide people stable life, and a better chance for career opportunity and open up new door for yourself. It is something that no one can take away. It’s like a ticket you can travel everywhere. If you don’t have education, you cannot improve yourself in the future. 


You can meet more of our amazing team and read their stories on the People of PLF page!


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