I was born in a refugee camp on the Khmer-Thai Border in 1982, but my birth certificate says I was born in 1980—so I was born two years old! When I was little I’d listen to Voice of America Radio with the elders in the camp. This is how I came to learn about my country. Even though I had never been there, as I grew up I missed Cambodia, and I thought someday I would return and do something good for the nation and its people.
In my family, my mother is the most important person. My father was in the military and he moved away to serve his post, so we rarely communicated with each other. He joined the military when I was born, dedicating his life to fight for Cambodian freedom. He almost lost his life from the wrong political leadership in 2007.
He regained his position, but sadly quit later and stayed with the family till his departure. His life taught me about persistence, dedication for the nation, and the life of being a Good Samaritan.
My mom worked for the government, and even though she didn’t have time to take care of us, she worked hard to support the family. Today she is an outstanding officer at the government ministry and my brothers and I are proud to be her sons.
From 1991 to 1993, UNTAC let refugees go back to Cambodia. Before my family resettled, we went to a place about 70 kilometers from the camp. We stayed there for a few months but it wasn’t easy. In 1993, UNTAC resettled our family to Kien Svay in Kondal Province. I studied seven years there until I graduated high school in 2000. For the first time in my life I had school friends from the villages. I was so happy. It wasn’t like the refugee camps. In the camps there was a lot of transition. As soon as you got one friend, another would leave.
When I finished 12th grade I came to Phnom Penh to study my bachelor’s but I didn’t have money. For three years I worked as a librarian for Asia Human Resource Development Center (Cambodia).
- Age: 41
- Ethnicity: Khmer
- Country: Cambodia
School & Program
- Royal University of Phnom Penh
- Master’s, Development Studies
Goals & Dreams
- Found a vocational school that teaches critical work skills for Cambodian youth
- Study in Australia
- Help the urban poor through city planning
- Loan Amount: $1,000
- Amount Left To Fund: $0
- Contract Duration: 10 years
- Status: In Repayment (Late 90)
What Others Are Saying About Bora
This is a Christian NGO which provides vocational training to poor students for two years. At that time I studied English part-time until I had saved enough to start school.
After a semester at my first school, I transferred to University of Cambodia, a school that uses American standards. I studied management there until I finished in 2007. After graduation, I continued to work at the Asia Human Resource Development Center. After some time working there, I realized we were helping people but not as much as we wanted. Here I also learned that those with money have money to give. So I reasoned that if I had money I could help a lot more people. At work, because I am a Christian, I would always ask the staff to pray for me to become a millionaire!
I stopped working at the NGO in 2012 so that I could start a business and begin pursuing a master’s degree. I didn’t know what kind of business I wanted to open at first. I just knew that if I started a charity it wouldn’t last. I ended up co-founding Albra Architect and Construction with my younger brother, Borin, who has a background in architecture design and construction.
Today, through Albra, I have become interested in ways to help the urban poor through city planning. When a country becomes richer, more people go to the city. If we can make a clear plan in order to prepare for this, then the city can handle the masses without many problems.
Currently I work at Albra full time and am finishing my master’s degree. In the future, I want to gain more knowledge and make networks in the business sector to start my dream business. This business would provide employment to young Cambodians through art and vocational schools and recreational centers. Before I do this, however, I want to study urban planning in Australia and use what I learn to come back to work with my architect team.
Written by Bora with editing assistance from Zomia’s volunteer editors.
“Even though I had never been there, as I grew up I missed Cambodia, and I thought someday I would return and do something good for the nation and its people.”
“In the future, I want to gain more knowledge and make networks in the business sector to start my dream business. This business would provide employment to young Cambodians through art and vocational schools and recreational centers.”