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Education is everything

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Student Hak Meng pictured in Phnom Penh. Photograph: Phnom Penh Post

Hak Meng, from Kampong Speu province, has been living alone as an orphan since he was a kid. Him and his three siblings were forced to depend on their three aunts.

But among them, he is the luckiest one, as he had the chance to study in Phnom Penh.

When he turned 15 he had to deal with a lot of problems as his aunts could not support him. He had to work, raise and sell chickens and pigs.

In 2008, he decided to go to Phnom Penh with $200 borrowed from his neighbour who felt sorry for him.

“This is my first step to study at a university in Phnom Penh,” he though back then.

Now, Hak Meng is studying at the Institute of Foreign Languages and volunteering as an English teacher.

His brother and sister support him by sending him 50000 or 70000 riel every week.

This amount of money is carefully and efficiently spent by Hak Meng on rent and things he needs for school like books, internet, uniform, travel and food.

Sometimes, however, he has to go to bed with an empty stomach.

In his flat there are no tables or chairs where he can sit on.

He reads books on his bed, or uses the library at school. He doesn't have a computer, so he researches, types his homework, sends emails to print and uses the dictionary on his smartphone.

Though he still faces challenges, he believes his education will give him a brighter future.

“I want to open a charity to save children," he said.

"As I have experienced the bitter taste of poverty, I don’t want them to go through the same experience.”

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