Written By: Seng Sivmey, YEA: Mekong Generation 2
Publication Date: 01 March 2021
Translated and Authorized By: Young Eco Ambassador
Same Age Different fate: They live on land, We live on the water
From the Children, I have seen
If we talk about children, we can hear their playful noise just by the thought of picturing them. These kids can be adorable, cute, and playful but annoying at the same time. Ever since I was born, I am not sure how many children have cried because of me; still not quite sure why I cannot get along well with them. Every time they are with me, they would start to cry! I am just playing with them and they start crying hmmm… how irritating. All the kids I have known are fortunate since all of them have rich parents who can afford to buy them expensive toys, nice clothes, and send them to school.
But not all kids are the same, some are less fortunate and it is even tougher when they enter adolescence. I am referring to the teens who dwell on the Mekong River. At this age, everyone wants to have a good life, but the reality is often different from what people expect, everything in real life cannot always be the way you wanted it to be.
Other people’s houses are huge with large space where they can play around. They have land under their houses, what about those who live on the Mekong River, what is under their house? Their houses are just floating on water. The water here is not just a means of transportation but this water is what makes them survive. I had been to Phat Sanday Commune, Kompong Svay District, Kompong Thom Province, and met Koy, a little boy at the age of 11 who is in his third grade. He told us that he must travel by boat to school and that he has no idea how to ride a bicycle. I continued asking him if there anything else that he does not know. He replied saying he does not know how to play anything except swimming. I pitied and at the same time admired him. Did you know? During the interview, he replied to every question with a sparkling smile without feeling any self-pity.
Not as lucky as others
Even though not everyone’s lives are the same and not everyone has got the same luck, but it seems too unfair for those who live on the river because their access to public service is not as convenient as those who live in the urban areas. Imagine if we get sick at night and there is no doctor to come and treat us, what to do? They do not get to study well; in fact, in an area surrounded by water like this, there are not many teachers. The level of the classroom can only get as high as grade 6 and they must travel to town if they intend to pursue higher education.
These kids rarely get to continue their studies due to their family’s condition. Maybe it is because they were born in a small community and they follow their parents’ guidance. This makes them less hopeless in their daily life.
Even though they do not get into higher education and that they are less fortunate than other kids, their lives are full of good memories with their families, friends, and the nature that they live with daily. Swimming has become a very popular sport for people there. Bathing together along with laughing sounds and the chirping voices of the birds, having dinner, and sharing food with family, sitting and glaring at the sunset alone when being scolded by mom.
Maybe there are many other kids whose lives are less fortunate than this, however, as a writer of this article, I just want to remind you that at this same time, living in the same world, being in the same country, there are many other people who are trying very hard to survive no matter how hard the situation is; they do not give up; they do not allow their happiness to be taken away by outside circumstances.
It begins with me.
As a matter of fact, I am now at least 10 years older than Koy; but looking back to when I was his age, I often got upset with my own life wishing I had the things which other kids had- not studying hard enough when I had the chance to do so. Unlike Koy, every aspect of life is different from mine, he can still move forward firmly in life. His life story has taught me to be more grateful for all the things I have and value the people I that is around me. His life might seem less fortunate than others but it does not determine whether it has any less meaning.
“Same Age Different fate: They live on land, We live on the water” is one of the three blog articles written by Seng Sivmey, YEA: Mekong Generation 2.
*Youth Program: Mekong Generation2 has been trained by Wapatoa and YEA team.