Born into a family of farmers, Moeun Channa was the eldest of three siblings and when his parents needed help to ease their financial burdens it fell to him to drop out of school and go to work as a blacksmith – a job that would tragically lead to an accident which caused him to lose both of his arms two years ago.
With unfailing love and support of his parents these past two years of grieving, Channa is back on his feet again and ready to overcome the challenges he now faces and start a new life.
Channa, now age 27, said it was tough to see other kids enjoying their teenage years and their lives at school while he had to begin work due to his family’s poverty.
“I dropped out of school when I was in secondary school. I found a job as a blacksmith. In 2016 while I was working, I got an electric shock and the doctor said it badly affected my blood vessels and that I would need to have both of my arms amputated,” Channa tells The Post.
Those were the darkest days of Channa’s young life and it took him the next two years to get over the unimaginable trauma of what happened and to heal both physically and mentally.
“Facing the fact of losing my arms was the only way I could find a way to start a new life for myself. I’m thankful to everyone who has had kind words for me to lift up my spirits,” he says.
He says there are two things that have kept him going. One is the encouragement from his loved ones and the other is seeing his parents working so hard on their farm to pay off their debts.
“I told myself that I had to be strong. It’s not like the world was going to end. The arms that I lost did not change anyone’s love for me. I have my parents and siblings to take care of and I also want to help my parents to pay all their debts,” Channa says.
After overcoming the nightmare of losing both arms, Channa was then able to start his own family in 2019.
“We will go through this together and now we have one son together but we sent him to live with his grandparents in the province because we wanted to work,” he says.
He says he is fortunate to have met his wife because the real sympathy and understanding she has shown him proves that she loves him just the way he is.
Channa had no intention of begging and was determined to continue earning a living productively. The first job he had in this new chapter of his life was selling cosmetics and perfume online but now he’s shifted to selling men’s accessories like bags, shoes and belts.
Earning a living through commissions on his sales has proven difficult amid the economic downturn due to Covid-19, so he posted on his Facebook page saying he wanted to find a side job where he can make some extra income.
At the moment, life is quite difficult for Channa, who says that his family is living beyond their means because he’s the only one working right now. His wife just gave birth seven months ago and his sister is staying with him while she attends her sophomore year of college studying accounting. Both have struggled to find work.
Channa is financially responsible for the expenses of his own family including his baby while also helping his parents and his 10-year-old brother.
Over a week ago he posted to his official page “Channa (Disabled) Online Shop” saying “hello everyone. I am looking for delivery work. If there are business people who want to hire more staff members, please count me in or if anybody knows of places that are hiring more delivery staff, I would appreciate it if you let me know as well. I really need this to help my family and pay my rent.”
His post caused many people to wonder how he could do a delivery job without his arms, but in fact he already was sometimes delivering items to customers by himself for his online shop.
“Of course, initially, driving was hard. But nothing is ever too hard if you need to do it to avoid an empty stomach. Now I can drive just like other people do. I learned to adapt to the situation and now I can pretty much do everything on my own.
“I can also use the computer and type, but some household chores and wearing certain clothing with zippers and buttons are still challenging,” Channa says.
Channa – whose hometown is Kampong Thom – says he doesn’t have any big dreams and never did even before his accident, but since he worked as a blacksmith for several years and still retains the skills he learned on the job, he hopes one day to open up a blacksmithing business of his own.
He says he has never encountered any discrimination from people, instead they appreciate of how he works diligently despite his disability and he now wants to be a role model for other disabled Cambodians.
“I actually have had a lot of people supporting me in the past and I’m so grateful for that and I want to encourage people with disabilities – whether from birth or accident or sickness – to stand up with hope and work hard to achieve the dreams you have,” Channa says.
Employers interested in hiring Moeun Channa can contact him on Facebook: @Channaonlineship168.