Interview with Hai: A Life of Sacrifice

Srey Hai is a student in 12th grade under support from the Lotus Outreach International Girls Access to Education program (GATE) at Phnom Penh. Hai is full of enthusiasm and determination. We recently sat down with her and her 65-year-old Grandmother, Dysophal. Both Hai and her 19-year-old sister were brought up by Dysophal. Hai’s older sister managed to pass the 11the grade and now works in a restaurant. Theirs is a story of immense courage and sacrifice. We sat down to have them share a bit of this story with us.

Hi Hai. Thanks for sitting down with me today. Can you tell me how you feel about getting a scholarship from Lotus Outreach?I am very happy. It will help me so much in my studies.

Tell us about your studies! What is your favorite subject and what do you like about school?I really love biology. I also study Khmer literature. I love to see my friends at school!

What else makes you happy, Hai? What makes you laugh?A happy family and a good performance at school.

And what is this ID tag you’re wearing?I attended a science fair recently. This is the entry pass.

Wonderful. Anything at the fair catch your eye?I was interested in different kinds of technology on display there. There was a robot that was able to serve people. That was very inspiring!

This year you will graduate. Will you apply for further study and, if so, where?I want to become a teacher. To start with, I will apply for a degree in English or Khmer literature.

Speaking of, your English is superb. How did you achieve that?I’ve been studying with a tutor part-time and pay $10/month for that.

Glenn to Dysophal. Dysophal, where were you from originally? I was born and lived in this area until being relocated to Kompong Speu province during Pol Pot era. I finally returned here in 1979 after Khmer Rouge surrendered.

Can you tell us about your relationship with Hai?  Where are her parents? Hai is my granddaughter. Her parents were divorced when Hai was three months old. Her mother left her at that time to work in Phnom Penh and never returned. Same with her father.

Dysophal, ahat an amazing job you’ve done bringing up these children!
Because I don’t have knowledge myself, I want them to be educated so they don’t have the difficult life I did. For that I was happy to sacrifice to give them a good education.


Since this interview, Srey Hai has completed 12th grade and has applied for a university degree in English. She is well on the way to realizing her dream of becoming an English teacher!

Underlining the importance of scholarships like Girls’ Access to Education is the fact that in 2019 only, 9000 government scholarships were offered and yet there were 51,000 applicants!

Again and again we see that with the comprehensive support and local network Lotus Outreach scholarships provide, children from poor backgrounds are able to achieve what would be otherwise unimaginable.

Sheer determination and effort on the part of Hai and her grandmother have created the opportunity for Hai to have a white-collar profession with a good salary. Hers is a way out of abject poverty that will have positive ripple effects for generations to come.