If you stay in a house with more than three kids, you may well grow bored and tired of looking after them. Now imagine there are more than ten kids in front of you, crying asking for this and that.
How would you feel then?
This is the everyday scenario for a 22-year-old woman who graduated from the Hun Sen Serey Peap high school: Pech Srey Pich is not only a Khmer literature teacher, but also one of the babysitters at Modern Kid Cares (MKC) who spend their days running from here to there and back to look after about 30 kids.
After work Pich takes the time to tell us about her daily work: “Looking after small kids is not a tough thing for me because I am used to it already,” she says, despite the sweat running down her face.
Her day starts by waiting for the kids in front of the school at 8 o’clock. Half an hour later she feeds them before the study time starts. Some kids refuse their food and she has to cajole them into eating.
In the morning Pich gets easily distracted. After a short talk, a shy girl comes over and touches her arm softly saying “I have finished my food already. Am I clever?”
“Yes, you are a good and lovely kid, so we will go to clean your hands now,” the babysitter replies as she takes the girl to clean her hands before bringing her to class.
When Pich comes back she explains that: “Some kids require to be fed, but mostly we teach them to eat in a clean way as well as washing their hands before and after eating and drinking water after they finish their food.”
Then she goes back to class. From the beginning of the day until noon she does not stop, not even for a quick rest.
She spends the rest of the day teaching, explaining the meaning of words, painting and so on.
As soon as she calls out "it's break time” the kids’ hands are full of paint and need to be cleaned.
Their snacks, prepared for them by their parents, have to be served too.
One girl comes up to the babysitter complaining about her snack: “Why there is there only milk? Where are the cookies my parents prepared for me?”
“You have a fever and cannot eat cookies because it will lead to more sickness,” Pich replies.
Not only food, but also their toys need to be prepared. Pich leans back for a second and says: “In the afternoon, I have to feed them lunch and take them to bed. After they get up, I have to bathe them and get them ready for the afternoon class.”
“I never feel tired working with kids because whenever I see them smile, it gives me new energy to work. Even when I feel down or sad sometimes, their smile can make me fresh again.”
Sometimes kids have arguments and fight each other. Pich has to solve their problems and promise the parents it won’t happen again.
Mostly it is not difficult to make kids listen to her, she says, adding that she has a lesson for parents that she wants to share.
“Just talk to them sweetly because, of all people, kids are the ones who like sweet words the most.”