Sophal is a 20-year-old university student, who used to be a Buddhist monk. In our previous story, he reported on his experience of leaving the monk community after seven years, and starting this new chapter in his life as a student, which he refers to as “his new life“.
Read Sophal’s story in his own words below and learn more about his Bachelor’s program:
I am Sophal. I am 20 years old and my hometown is a small village in Kampot province. I am a third-year student in the Agricultural Science department at the Prek Leap National Institute of Agriculture.
Because my family is very poor, I became a monk when I was 13 years old. I lived at a pagoda in Kampot for many years and eventually graduated high school. Then it was my dream to continue my studies to get a Bachelor’s degree.
I was allowed to move to a pagoda in Phnom Penh and got a stipend from the Prek Leap National Institute of Agriculture so that I don’t have to pay for tuition. Unfortunately, however, the pagoda that I lived at was extremely far away from my school. It was very expensive for me to commute. In the first two years of my studies, my family tried to cover the costs of my commute, and I also had a lot of online lessons, so that I didn’t have to physically study at school. However, this year my university opened again and I was challenged once again.
As a monk, I was neither allowed to ride a moto or a bicycle myself nor was I allowed to be a passenger on a moto. The only way that I could commute to my university, which was 9 kilometers away from my pagoda, was by tuk-tuk or taxi. This costs 10$ a day simply for transportation and there was no way I could afford that because as a monk I didn’t have any money. I was very worried that I would have to drop out of university.
At that time, I approached this NGO and spoke with Julian. I was very happy when I received the news that we would work on a good plan together that will allow me to continue my studies.
This NGO enabled me to stop being a monk and leave the pagoda. You all help me to continue my studies at university and you help me every month to pay rent for the student dorm of my university.
I am pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Science at the Prek Leap National Institute of Agriculture. I chose this subject because I love this skill very much. It is my ultimate dream to have my own farm in the future. I would run my own business and make a living, which I can use to support my family.
With the many things that I learn at this university, I want to have a positive impact on Cambodia’s agriculture businesses. I hope that my knowledge and my skill will help me to improve my country.
Once again, I want to thank you all very much for supporting me. Thanks to you, I have a new place to live. I also get a monthly budget to buy groceries, pay for my meals, buy clothes, and other daily expenses. You are fully taking care of me.
In the end, I want to say that I am very thankful to all of you for helping me to leave the pagoda and study at university. You changed my life forever!
I wish you all the best and that God takes care of you!
Since Sophal received a stipend for his Bachelor’s degree, he currently doesn’t have to pay any tuition. Our support comes in the form of the coverage of his school supplies, accomodation, room supplies, and daily living expenses. We stay in close contact with Sophal to ensure that all his needs are met.