A dark, tall, thin man pushes his Chinese dumplings cart silently at midnight. In the dark of night, you can only see his bread lit by a small lamp in a glass case. He sells to the few hungry people who venture out at night, mostly travellers. Although a difficult job, this is the career of Chinese dumplings vendor Nget Sarom.
In order to provide for his food, rent and family in the countryside, Sarom, 31, never wastes a day. With his pitiful little cart, he starts selling dumplings at 2pm each afternoon at his house near Samrong Andet Pagoda and Pochentong Market. By the time he gets back home from his daily routine, it is 2am.
Because he makes little money selling Chinese dumplings (a dome-shaped Chinese cake filled with pork), Sarom, 31, always struggles to stay afloat.
An impoverished background and lack of education has prevented Sarom from taking higher paying jobs. Sarom, who says he is a poor farmer’s son from Kampong Speu, never finished school beyond grade four.
“Due to poverty and not having money for studying, I’m not well-educated. Sometimes, my family has nothing to eat.”
He said that unemployment in his homeland led him to emigrate to the city 10 years ago to find jobs.
In the past decade, Sarom has faced many obstacles as he has worked jobs ranging from garment factory worker to construction worker. But because these jobs could not support his life in the city, he decided to sell Chinese dumplings, which he said makes him enough money to send a little cash back home.
Having worked the job for five years, Sarom has met some problems selling bread at night. With an unhappy face, the struggling but patient man recalled some of his unfortunate experiences.
“I have been threatened and beaten for money several times. If I don’t give them money, those gangsters always beat me.”
Even when he is not robbed, Sarom also faces people looking down on him. He said on one occasion, a motorbike driver shouted to him: “Eh, Chinese dumpling seller, how untidy you are.”
Sarom said that he is irritated by such blatant public displays of discrimination.
“I would like them not to look down on me and other poor people. I am also a human being, and I don’t do anything wrong or ask for something from them.”
Despite the hardships and lack of respect, Sarom said that he values his job.
Nget Sarom has some suggestions for youths.
“As citizens in society, we should not do things that will have bad effects on others. No matter how difficult things are, we should avoid stealing and work hard according to our abilities.”
Any career has value if it avoids illegal activities, and we should not look down on poor people. We should instead, pity, help and admire their struggle as they live their lives as good citizens.