Srey Kong has painted her family’s life at the garbage dump in Stung Meanchey on the wall of the school. The family’s surname, Sok, means happy, but the ten siblings have not always had happiness on their side.
The Sok family travelled to the capital city, Phnom Penh, because they couldn’t get enough food to get by in their home village. They hoped for a better life in the capital, but instead they ended up on the garbage dump. Today, four of the children go to the PIO school. There, they fight to achieve their dreams. But the family has shrunk, and there is much sorrow.
The children’s mother fell ill with hepatitis. It became gradually harder for her to eat, and one day when the children got home from school their mother was gone. She had returned to their home village without saying goodbye, and not long after that she died. “Our father couldn’t take care of us after our mother passed away, so he took us four youngest children to the children’s home and left us there,” says Srey Kong.
Sorrow and joyWorking at the garbage dump was tough, dangerous and badly paid, so when the eldest sister, Phally, got a job at a textile factory, they were delighted. But one morning, as she left the family’s little house beside the garbage dump to go to work, she was knocked over by a garbage truck and was killed. Another sister met a man. They travelled together to Thailand. But it soon turned out that the man had tricked her, and didn’t want to be with her at all. Instead, he sold her to a brothel.
So many sad things have happened to the family, and sometimes it’s painful to think about it. It helps to draw those thoughts and memories. Sisters Srey Kong and Somaly love drawing and painting. At PIO, all talents are nurtured, and the children get to learn the skills that interest them. Every Sunday, an artist comes to help the sisters develop their skills with different materials and techniques. They have painted murals, huge paintings on the walls of the school.