After several postponements due to Covid, the big day finally arrived for one of our dearest former residents, Koem Heng. She came to Little Hearts when she was still a teenager, learned everything she could from Tony, Roxanne and her tutors, and went on to study banking and finance at the Vanda Institute. Shortly after graduating (she was top of her class) she landed an internship at CIMB Bank, which eventually turned into a full-time job as a risk officer. And as if all that wasn’t enough, she is now married!
Last Sunday, Koem Heng looked radiant in her traditional dress – one of many she wore in the course of the ceremony. Cambodian weddings are quite different from western ones. For one thing, they start very early in the morning; as the father of the bride, Tony had to be there at 5.30 am! They are typically held under a tent erected on a lawn or along the road and continue for the entire day. Both bride and groom wear colourful silk attire, which they must change several times, as each stage requires a different outfit. The wedding culminates in a knot-tying ceremony and the throwing of white palm seeds.
Who was the lucky groom, you’re probably wondering? That’s where the story becomes even more intriguing! While still a student, Koem Heng had a job placement at Plantation Resort, a boutique hotel in Phnom Penh. It was there that she met Reaksmey, who worked as a cook in the resort’s restaurant. Months later, the restaurant was forced to close its doors because of Covid, and Reaksmey was out of a job. But not for long. He was quickly hired to be the chef at Little Hearts, where he prepares lunch and dinner for some 40 children and staff every day. So, for all of us here at Little Hearts, the wedding was really a family occasion.
Today, Koem Heng finally moved out. She will live with Reaksmey in their new home in Chbar Ampov district, just across the river. As she waved goodbye, it was hard for everyone to hold back tears, but of course, we wish her the very best. Though shy and demure by nature, Koem Heng has been a great role model for all her younger brothers and sisters at Little Hearts – diligent, compassionate, and an accomplished student. She will always be family and we will welcome her back with open arms when she comes to visit.