A farmer boy, a monk and an audiovisual editor
Supporting a young man to get success in his life is just a key for a sustainable development of any country. It is very important to fight for the reduction of the gender gap and to give girls and women same opportunities. But it is also important not to forget that boys and young men need also support. To forget men just starting from the idea that they are “strong” and they can manage for themselves, prove to be a wrong position and a misunderstand of the gender reduction efforts. Men without education and opportunities can generate violence in many senses. The story of Chamroeun, a farmer boy who became Buddhist monk and then could reach a technical formation in a Don Bosco school, is a good example of how boys and young men can have those spaces to jump into a future of opportunities for the good of their country. The original articles was published in Kampuchea Thmey Daily with the title “Poverty is not a barrier for a person with high values,” but I edited this new English version with some other perspectives as he is my own pupil:
It was in August 2010 when Venerable Chamroeun entered into my office in Don Bosco Sihanoukville for interview, among hundreds of youth coming from different farmer villages of the coastal Cambodian provinces extending from the Thai to the Vietnamese borders. He was with his saffron monk casa and a youthful expression fighting between the need to show his best to be accepted as a student and his religious dignity. He wanted to study social communication and journalism, but the scores sent him to automotive. He requested some weeks to enter the laity, something that is made in a very well organized ceremony in his original pagoda in Kampong Trach. It was the first time I knew that when a Buddhist monk was going to leave the monastery, he must follow a special ceremony… It would be a great idea for some other religious groups 🙂
In the first days of his studies in Don Bosco Sihanoukville, already wearing the uniform of the school as other youth, he visited me several times to my office to request a change to social communication. He kept the brightness monkshood in his eyes and something told us that he was claiming his own future. One student of social communication stopped suddenly, opening the place to our ex-monk.
His original name was Tech and I knew it recently. It was curious, because it was such as Technology, but in Khmer it is more like angel. But his official current name is Chamroeun, being his surname (at Cambodian tradition, of course,) Cheng… Cheng Chamroeun, born at the Battea Village, in that beautiful region of Kompung Trach, the eastern part of the Kampot Province. The fifth child of Mok Phun and Pich Pan, a farmer family living with just the necessary and limited resources to give a proper education to their springs. It was the main reason why the boy was sent to school for his first time at 10, while Phun, his father, went to work to Thailand for three years trying to get better possibilities. During the absence of his father, Chamroeun worked hard to support the activities of his mother consisting in selling vegetables at the Vietnamese border, something that included to walk for several kilometers every day.
In 2003 Phun returned from Thailand and decided his son should become a Buddhist monk at the Kiri Kongkea Pagoda, an option for many poor families: it helps to reduce the burden if there are many children at home, while getting blessings for all relatives.
Another reason of why Phun sent his son to the pagoda was that he could get better study opportunities there and he was right. In many rural areas of Cambodia, pagodas became the best option for education. But Chamroeun did not wear the monk habit just to sit down in full meditation. The teenager monk felt he should study very hard, with all the inspiration in Confucianism, feeling that study hard would bring him to somewhere else… When Phun, his father, noticed how dedicated was his son to books, he advised him to continue that way. He knew that an educated boy would bring a better future. Tech – at that time still his name – spent several months preparing to be ordained as a Buddhist priest, including to spend some months in Poipet at the Thai border – more than 700 kilometers far from his original pagoda – learning Pali language with an elderly monk. As a monk he managed to conclud his high school and applied for English Literature at the Economics Management University (UME) in Sihanoukville. It was the time when he decided he wanted to study in Don Bosco. “I knew that youth studying technical education in places like Don Bosco, would have better job opportunities than those going to universities… and now I proved it is right,” he says.
He was careful to investigate if his religious statues would be an impediment to study in a technical school linked to the Catholic Church. “I was afraid a little, because I was a Buddhist monk and they say it was a Christian school… but some friends told me that Don Bosco did not ask for religion and did not oblige students to convert or something like this… I could prove it very well and I lived in an atmosphere of tolerance and family feeling there…” he pointed out.
When he entered in Don Bosco, he let his monkshood to become a layman. In social communication and journalism he specialized in audiovisual production, but after he graduated from Don Bosco in 2012, he worked as a communication coordinator at the Cambodian Labor Confederation in Phnom Penh for one year. As his skill was audiovisual production, he continued for the search of his vocation and joined Apsara Award 2013 as graphic designer and the Pkay Rash Knong Soun program. In September 2013 he supported the video editing team with Mr. Mean Sam Ouen, the director of One Channel Media Co., Ltd at Beung TumPon, becoming a TV staff. Currently, he is working as editor of the television program “I know you know” that is emitted from Monday to Friday at 11 AM.
“I like to contact students of Don Bosco to motivate them… and boys from rural areas to tell to them we should not stop by the facts of poverty… we should fight for our dreams,” he concludes.