Meet LWB’s Director in Cambodia
All of LWB’s programs are completely run by local citizens in the different countries where we provide services. This has always been a very important part of our mission philosophy, as we believe the biggest changes in a village or community come through empowering local people who are passionate about making a difference.
Today we’d like to introduce you to Sokleng In, the man who is helping hundreds of rural children in Cambodia. Leng, as he likes to be called, set up a small NGO in 2014 to provide primary school education to at-risk children. Within a year, he had over 150 students enrolled.
Our CEO, Amy Eldridge, first met with Leng last fall. By the end of her time in Cambodia, Amy was 100% certain that we had found the perfect person to help us expand our many program areas into this part of Southeast Asia. She came back and told the LWB Board, “Leng’s honesty and sincerity shines through in everything he does, and his devotion to improving the lives of children is absolutely inspiring.”
Soon after, the paperwork was filed to establish LWB-Cambodia as a legal domestic charity, and Leng began to work nonstop to create life-changing projects in the fields of medical, education, nutrition, and foster care. Five months into our new partnership, we can say without reservation that we have been infinitely blessed to have this remarkable young man as part of the LWB family.
We asked Leng to answer a few questions for our supporters so you can come to love him just as much as we do!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Leng, and I am the Director of Cambodia Programs for Love Without Boundaries Foundation. I am 32 years old, and I live on the border between Cambodia and Thailand with my family. I have a wonderful wife, a daughter who is six years old, and a son who is two years old. I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture and Rural Development at Maharrishi Vedic University in Cambodia. My primary skill focus is working with the community. I’ve worked as a researcher in communities with focus groups and data collection and analysis. I’ve also worked as a facilitator to lead rural communities in setting up self-help groups and workshop trainings. In addition, I have also trained communities about setting up sustainable home gardens.
What five words would people use to describe you? (Leng decided to have a local friend answer this question for him, and the responses are below)
- Leng has a fine mind and an extraordinary heart.
- Leng is kind and extremely generous.
- Leng is an amazing and faithful man – full of compassion, diligence, and a belief in the worth of others.
- Leng is very innovative.
- Leng is a role model to the community.
What was your childhood like?
I grew up in a very vulnerable situation family, with no expectations that I could ever have a better life. When I was five years old, my dad died from tuberculosis, so every responsibility was then on my mom. After the funeral, my mom told us we have nothing left…just $2.50 to start our new life. Mom worked so hard for us, carrying 50 kg of bags of rice on her shoulders to load on ox carts to earn money to feed our family. She kept us in school because she knew that only education could change our life for the better. Now at 65 years old, my mom has curvature of the spine from her hard work that injured her back.
I view holistic skills training as a valuable component in supporting vulnerable families. Cambodia’s tragic history has aggravated widespread poverty and has adversely affected the mindset and attitudes of the rural poor from generation to generation. Daily hardships put pressure on children to leave school to find extra income for their families, which then puts them at risk for being trafficked. When these children grow up, they continue the cycle by believing that their own children should do the same. I know that real transformation is difficult, as it requires a holistic community change in mindset, but I still believe it is possible. This is why I am so passionate about my work with Love Without Boundaries Foundation.
What is one of your favorite moments from your work?
My most enjoyable thing is when I visit the children’s homes and hear feedback from their impoverished parents. In these visits, their parents have said that they really appreciate our programs, as we are encouraging growth and change both intellectually and emotionally. I want to see them share and talk about their experiences to other people and step into positive roles in their community. I hope to encourage and support positive transformation in self, in family, and in community.
What do you think the biggest challenges in your region are?
- High unemployment
- Lack of nutrition (children have no food to eat at home)
- No education
- Trafficking and migration
- Socio-economic imbalance between rural and urban areas
If you had a million dollars to help children in your country, how would you spend it?
The first priority is to work on educating children. Education is a fundamental human right and is vital to achieving economic growth, increasing income, and sustaining a healthy society. Education helps to improve lives, breaks the cycle of poverty, and ensures that all people, particularly women, have control over their destiny. I believe that education can truly bring a better life. If someone has no education, they will stay in the same situation or even worse.
What does “every child counts” mean to you?
“Every child counts” means that we must value children, and we should all work to ensure that every child is secure, healthy, and happy.
Thank you, Leng, for sharing more about yourself! And thank you to everyone who has become involved with our newest programs in Cambodia.
We know when we work together, really remarkable things for the children are sure to happen.