At the age of 23, Keo Sampov is the Child Labour Project Co-ordinator at the Cambodian Labour Confederation (CLC). At the same time, he is a third-year student majoring in management at Human Resources University.
“No matter how many tasks you’re assigned from work and school, when you have good time management, you can still run them smoothly and productively,” he said.
After moving from the rural Kourng Pisey district of Kompong Speu in 2008, Keo Sampov had to find a job in order to finance his university degree. However, he chose to pursue volunteer work instead.
“My volunteer benefits were enough for my meals and accommodation. I stayed with a family, and I had to help them do some housework,” he said.
On a typical day, he assists the program manager to organise events concerned with issues of child labour. When his work there is done, he attends evening classes.
“To keep my scores up, I have to do research and learn by myself,” he said.
He believes his passion for volunteer work developed from his past. As young as grade seven, many of his family members were seriously ill; no one was able to feed him.
“I had to ask the villagers for a job, helping them on their rice paddies from evening until late at night.”
When Keo Sampov started secondary school, he didn’t want others to experience what he had to go through as a young boy. He was eager to motivate his peers in order to address the issue of child labour in the community. He got a team of students together to aid the cause, and successfully brought five girls back to study at school, willingly.
In return for his continued efforts, Keo Sampov has received significant awards and prizes.
A few years ago, he was the recipient of a grant funded by UNICEF to reduce community violence. He also received a grant to promote child education, and another for child participation “in good governance” sponsored by World Bank.
In 2009, Keo Sampov participated in an international exchange program, leaving for Vietnam. Titled Peace for Two Nations, the program focused on creating a good relationship and understanding between Vietnamese and Cambodian children. There, he showed fellow participants Cambodian dance, and learned fresh ideas from others.
Today, Keo Sampov’s volunteer group members still work hard in their efforts to stop child labour. He usually meets with his team on weekends, to create a plan for what needs to be done next.
His team has been most active in Sdok and Preah Vihear, where they co-operate with both commune councils and authorities.
“Young people should set a very specific timetable and stick to it, so that you cannot waste your time on bad things,” he advised.
“In other words, you have to make clear goals in order to shape a bright future.”