A girl’s journey from brick factory worker to outstanding student

Keota used to spend hours stacking heavy bricks to supplement her family's income. This International Day of the Girl, advocate to help girls like her.

Today has been declared by the United Nations as the International Day of the Girl. To commemorate this day, we’re asking you to advocate on behalf of girls like Keota in Cambodia.

A brick factory is no place for an 11-year-old girl. But each day, Keota would spend hours stacking heavy bricks in a dusty, dangerous workplace to supplement her parents’ meager income.

Now, thanks to World Vision, Keota is back in school, earning good grades, and helping her little sisters with their studies.

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I am Keota. I am 11 years old. I am the oldest daughter of four siblings.

Both of my parents work in the brick factory. They work so hard, and I pity them so much.

Working in the brickyard is not safe. For me, as a small kid, I earned a very small amount.

I used to work in the brick factory with my parents. It was really hard work. Every time I held the cooked clay bricks and prepared them in a row. I got hurt so often because the bricks fell and hit my toe. My toe was swollen, and I couldn’t complain since it was my work to help my parents earn money to buy food.

It was so heavy to carry raw clay bricks to be cooked in the kiln. I had no time to play, and all my friends also worked in the brick factory. We were so busy. It’s tiring working in the brick factory.

Whenever I returned home, I fell asleep. That’s why I didn’t read any books or even do homework. I was also a weak student.

I went to work in the brick factory to help my parents after school because my family needed money to buy food to eat. My eyes hurt since the ashes were swirling in the brick factory. And it was also hard to breathe well.

I thought that to avoid working in the brick factory, I have to study hard, but I had no energy to focus on studying because I worked so hard, and it was exhausting.

I remember one day, there were two people who visited children at the brick factory where I worked. They were from World Vision. They asked many questions to all children about the difficulties and risks working in the brick factory.

I was interested in the many questions they asked, especially when they asked about education. I wanted to study so much. I shared with them about my difficulties and what I wanted.

Keota used to spend hours stacking heavy bricks to supplement her family's income. This International Day of the Girl, advocate to help girls like her.
Thanks to World Vision’s intervention, Keota now has a reason to smile. (©2012 World Vision/photo by Vichheka Sok)

World Vision staff came to my community. I was so scared of World Vision staff the first time I met them. But later on, I felt good because they are so nice and [encouraged] me to study hard.

I went to the drop-in center and studied many things there with World Vision staff. I started to love them more, and I was so cared for and loved by all the people at the center. I learned how to read and write, how to calculate, [practice] hygiene, and [choose] good food to eat. I received a bicycle, bag, school materials, soap, and clothes for schooling.

I understand lots now about education. I commit to study hard for a better job. I want to help my family to have a better condition. I am the oldest daughter of the family, so I have to be a good model for my younger sisters.

I look after all my younger siblings and tell them to be keeping themselves clean. I sometimes teach them how to read and write, and I read storybooks for them too.

World Vision staff also shared with my parents about the risks for children who work in the brick factory. They encouraged my parents to push me hard to study, so good things will happen to the family if children are able to get a higher education.

My parents understand well, and they smile when they see me reading a book, and they teach my younger siblings to read and spell words. They now do not allow me to go to work in the brick factory. What they tell me to do is to go to school, look after younger siblings at home, and do housework.

I keep sharing with my parents what I have learned at the center and all the good words from World Vision staff. World Vision staff still keeps visiting my family and checks how things are going with my family, especially my studying. I like them.

I now became an outstanding student in class. I am healthy, and I can focus on studying. I am happy to hear my mother say that she will not let me give up school. She supports me, and I will study hard. I will not give up my studying because I want my dream to come true. I dream to be a cosmetician.

Today is the International Day of the Girl. Mark this day by becoming involved in bringing help, hope, and empowerment to girls and women affected by poverty around the world:

  • Sponsor a girl in need. Sponsorship makes a long-term investment in the life of a girl, her family, and her community, providing greater access to life-giving basics like nutritious food, clean water, medical care, and education — the foundation for a future of independence and hope.
  • Take action. You hold incredible influence. Harness that influence to encourage your representatives to act on behalf of the world’s poor to achieve the following goals, together.


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