The Heart Behind Vision Cambodia
Chantha grew up in an impoverished Cambodian village and under very difficult circumstances. As a young child his father disappeared during the civil war and his mother had no way of caring for him, so he was sent to live with extended family in another village. He was not a welcome addition, and he became the child slave of the family where he was severely treated and put to hard labor from the ages of four to thirteen.
One day, while caring for the family cows, one slipped away and walked back home without him. As a punishment, he was viciously beaten with a bamboo pole and then tied to a mango tree for two days, where red ants began to eat him alive. He begged God to let him die, but that was not where Chantha’s story was to end.
His entire childhood Chantha struggled to get a basic education, against the wishes of the family. At thirteen years old, he desperately wanted to attend secondary school, but his legal guardians denied his request because they did not want to lose their slave labor. This only strengthened his resolve, and one night he walked out of the village with $0.10 in his pocket, no friends or relatives, and no specific destination. He just walked in the direction of the nearest town, and arrived at daybreak. He made his way to a Buddhist monastery where he was taken in by Monks, and provided with a safe and stable environment to learn and grow. During the following six years he excelled in his studies and eventually became the English language instructor at the monastery. A university degree and a career as an English speaking tour guide were to follow, but he never forgot his childhood, or the many rural children in similar circumstances.
Chantha’s upbringing instilled a fundamental sense of empathy and charity. As the founder of Vision Cambodia he has worked with rural villages to provide clean water, education, and supplies to thousands. His efforts represent the kind of grass roots progress that lead to positive change and real hope in rural communities.