Sothon Gets Engaged

Last week, Sothon, the oldest boy at Little Hearts, got officially engaged to his longtime sweetheart, Srey Nich, a smart, independent young woman who recently graduated from university with a degree in finance and banking. The ceremony took place at the home of Nich’s parents and involved all the pomp of a traditional Cambodian social event, including a monk’s benediction, fruit offerings by all the guests, a knot-tying ceremony, and the customary blessing of bracelets.

Sothon, now 23, hails from Kompong Chhang province. His parents separated when he was very little, and he never heard from his father again. His mother struggled to take care of six children on her own, so she was forced to give up the youngest, Sothon, who was sent to live with the monks at a nearby pagoda. Our cook, Ma Khun, is a distant relative, and upon hearing of his abandonment, she asked Tony for help. In 2013, Sothon finally came to live at Little Hearts, where he enjoyed a proper home, the affection of the staff and his fellow students, guidance, and high-level education. Indeed, he successfully completed his bachelor’s degree in agronomy just a few months ago.

Having finished university, Sothon is now keen to start his own project – perhaps a small organic farm, or an animal husbandry business. He’s very ambitious, hard-working and resilient, but he needs to find some funding first and learn the essentials of operating an agricultural enterprise. (If you know of an agri-business where he could start as an intern and learn the ropes, please get in touch!)

In the meantime, Tony has hired him as a temporary full-time caretaker at Little Hearts. Even when he was working hard on his university degree, Sothon was always dedicated to Little Hearts’ younger residents, watching over them when needed, advising them as a trusted big brother, helping them with their homework, and supervising them on field trips and weekend activities. He also often assisted Billy with building maintenance tasks and applied his knowledge in agriculture to tend to our vegetable garden and the fruit trees in the front garden, many of which he planted, pruned and harvested himself. So, he was able to transition seamlessly into a caretaker role and now enjoys formally bossing his brothers and sisters around. He is particularly strict when policing the younger boys’ washing routine, as hygiene is one of his pet peeves…

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