Tevy grew up in Phnom Penh, but was evacuated to Pursat Province during the tragic, genocidal years in the 1970’s. Sadly, her father and three sisters perished along with countless others. This was a devastating time for Tevy and her mother. Despite the shadow of history, she is keen to look to the future. She has great courage and commitment, and she is keen to make a success of her life. Being passionate about her food, she wants her small restaurant in Siem Reap to be a success. Tevy met Cecil, who she calls her Irish volunteer, in a local market in Siem Reap while she was selling vegetables. She did not have a restaurant then. “Cecil helped me during my difficult time, from selling vegetables with me to looking for a space to open Tevy’s Place.”, Tevy mentioned.
As a Khmer businesswoman, Tevy also sees the value of education because it can change people’s future. Collaborating with SeeBeyondBorders to help other Khmer children get a better education is a wonderful opportunity for her. “I especially want to help other Khmer women to have a good education so that they have more job opportunities.”, she said.
Cecil is from Northern Ireland. He worked in the education sector as a teacher and adviser almost in his entire life. “After I stopped my full-time job in the government, having more free time and no family commitment, I believed I had something to offer back to the community.”, he said.
8 years ago, Cecil happened to come to Cambodia in order to help his friend to set up a small school in Kampong Speu province. When the school project was completed, he moved to Bakong District, Siem Reap Province to work for another NGO there. He then relocated to Siem Reap City where he met an inspirational monk, Samneang. Samneang worked for Life and Hope Association in Dam Nak pagoda. At that time, there were 2 monks trying very hard to establish a learning center for poor students, but wanted to learn English to gain employment opportunities. “Because of Samneang’s passion and inspiration, not only for the Life and Hope Association, but also Cambodia as a whole, I stayed and helped to develop the school for 5 years as a volunteer.”, Cecil said. He worked with other volunteers and the monks. The school now has about 250 students every day.
“The main reason that keeps me here in Cambodia is the Cambodian people, their kindness, strength and resilience despite hardship and challenges. For all those reasons, I decided to stay in Cambodia ever since.” Cecil highlighted. “Now the monks can manage the school really well with the model we developed together. I no longer work at the school, but I occasionally go there to speak with the director just to see how things are going.”, he added.