You Can Do It!

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In Cambodia, Dira, left, encourages her 12-year-old sister, Phinat, with her studies.

Dira had to leave school in the second grade so she could scavenge for junk to help her family earn money after her father died. One day, Dira and four friends were sitting at the gate of a karaoke entertainment place, a World Vision staff member asked her and her friends if they wanted to study in a drop-in-center.

Dira and her friends did not respond quickly, but they went back to their parents and asked for an agreement. At the center, Dira and her close friend, Veasna Som, learned how to write and read. And Dira learned a new skill that has changed her life – hairdressing.

“Now I can dye hair, do makeup, cut hair, highlight hair, polish and paint nails,” Dira says.

After learning the skill, World Vision also partially supported Dira and Veasna to run a hairdresser shop in the village. They earn $10 to $17.50 a day.

“From the income, I can support my younger brother, sister and my mother with rice and other food,” Dira says.

Because of her experience, Dira wants her younger siblings to have a different life.

“I want them to study until [they] finish class,” she says. “I don’t want Phinat to scavenge because she is too young.” Scavengers face risks, such as rape and traffic accidents, says Dira.

 “My older sister encourages me to study hard,” Phinat says. “She doesn’t allow me to pick up junk.” Phinat has the second-highest grades in her class of 30 students.

Forms of child labor in Cambodia include working in brick factory, as a domestic, farm worker, construction worker, scavenger, and other jobs. But Dira has other plans for her talented sibling. “I want my younger sister be an accountant,” she says.

Photo© 2013 World Vision, Ratana Lay

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