“I want my life because I want to eat, to study, to work and to be successful in the future,” says Noun Sovitou, 24, a committed man from Kandal province’s Kian Svay district whose good looks were destroyed in a severe traffic accident.
Despite the serious accident, the traditional and contemporary dancer wants to share his knowledge to the younger generations.
One evening in January, 2012, Sovitou was riding his motorbike to attend a studio inauguration in Phnom Penh. He remembers that he was in a hurry at the time, so he wanted to speed up to pass a car driving in front of him. When he sped up to overtake the car the driver turned left unexpectedly. Sovitou’s motorbike hit the back of the car and he was thrown off it as if he weighed nothing at all.
The right half of Sovitou’s face hit the front of his bike and he lost consciousness. Though he was able to stand up by himself a few minutes after the accident, he didn’t remember what had happened.
“After five to 10 minutes I came to and realised that I had been in an accident. I saw an ambulance and I walked into it by myself,” recalls Sovitou.
After four days in a semi-conscious state in the emergency room, Sovitou opened his eyes again. “I could see only one light in the room, and I knew the studio I should have gone to four days earlier had different lights,” says Sovitou.
Sovitou didn’t realize that the accident had severely injured him until he moved to another room and saw a mirror – his face had been changed beyond recognition.
“My molar and my palate completely broke, my breath was blocked and I could not see clearly out of my right eye.”
Sovitou’s right face still has a metal brace inside. The accident left the 24-year-old dance major as “a new person that is not me”.
Sovitou had difficulties accepting his new face and, on top of everything, he had just lost his beloved mother, who passed away only one month before the accident. His mother’s funeral costs and the expensive medical treatment Sovitou had to receive left his already not well-to-do farming family in a serious financial crisis on top of all the grief. “It was very tough when all the disasters happened at the same,” he recalls.
But no matter how dire the young man’s life became he overcame all obstacles. Sovitou is still a fourth year student at the Faculty of Dancing at the Royal University of Fine Arts, and he is still pursuing a dancing career with unbroken passion. On the loss of his good looks he says: “I have to accept it. It’s just my appearance; I still have my passion and conscience to carry me toward my goals.”
Sovitou’s main goal is to spread Cambodian culture. He wants to become a teacher at RUFA or an independent artist in the future. “I love Khmer culture, and I just want to spread it to people. That’s why I believe that how I look on the outside is not important – what’s inside me counts much more.”
Sovitou like to share his philosophy of dealing with all the changes that came with the accident. He also wishes to learn how Cambodian culture and art evolved through the generations, and to contribute his knowledge to Cambodian culture and society.
In the more than one and a half years since the accident Sovitou has never let up in his effort to become a successful dancer, despite the loss of his mother, his old face and financial stability. He still keeps working toward achieving his plans and has now become a skillful performer of Lakhorn Khorl (traditional Cambodian drama) and contemporary dance. His strong desire for success has made him become a sought-after traditional and contemporary dancer and he has been hired by various companies and organisations.
After more than one and a half years of medical treatment, Sovitou’s injured eye is finally back to normal and he can breathe and eat like he used to. Though the traffic accident couldn’t kill his dreams, he is sick and tired of the traffic situation in Cambodia. “Traffic is a small thing, but it causes a big problem in society,” he says. As a victim of a traffic accident, Sovitou sends a message to drivers and riders: “Don’t only learn the road rules, but also obey them! We have to forgive each other while driving, especially when we know that our actions can harm the innocent.”