Hello. My name is Samnang. I am 12. I live in Rattinak. I live with my cousin, Semeth who is 15, his mother, and our grandparents.
My father died when I was young. He actually killed himself. My cousin's father also died. He died of AIDS. My cousin's mother also has HIV and she cannot work.
My mother used to earn money for us, but last year, my mother ran away with my younger sister and never came back. She has a new husband.
When she left, I became so sad, and I could not buy any food because my mother used to earn some money. I failed my test at TASSEL. That was when Teacher Sarem, my TASSEL teacher, found out that there were problems in my family and came to visit.
Teacher Sarem found out about my family and immediately called other teachers to visit. They visited many times and brought us food. Then one day they said that the foreigners would sponsor my family.
We cried when we found out that the foreigners would sponsor us. Nobody has been kind to us before. Even our neighbors do not help us because my aunt has HIV. My aunt and my grandmother tried to make rice snacks to sell to our neighbors to earn money, but nobody bought them because my aunt has HIV. My grandma makes some money by washing dishes for some people, but she does not make enough to buy us food everyday. So, Semeth and I often go to catch frogs or fish. With the foreigners' help, we can eat other things.
My grandfather has not spoken to anyone even before I was born. My grandmother said he saw someone get killed in his house by the Khmer Rouge soldiers and that he stopped talking since then. We are very poor, but now we are okay because of foreigners who are truly kind and also TASSEL teachers who do not simply teach English but also come to our house to take care of us.