Meet Bunteng

#Reimagine: Meet Bunteng, a future artist who will inspire people.

Jaime Gill
©UNICEF Cambodia/2020/Antoine Raab
UNICEF Cambodia/2020/Antoine Raab
12 November 2020

I was born in Bangkok because my mother worked there and lived there until I was 6, but I don’t remember it. Then my family came back to Cambodia and we moved to Chbar Ampov in Phnom Penh. Because I wasn’t born in Cambodia, I didn’t have the right birth certificate to go to school. I spent a lot of time on the streets. Then I met some new new friends and followed them to an NGO called Tiny Toones, who said I could learn with them. That made me happy.

The things I like to do most at school are English and drawing. There are also a lot of creative things that I learnt. I’m an okay dancer. I’m a better rapper, and a couple of years ago I came third in a rap battle with lots of adults. But the thing I love most is drawing. My teacher, Bboy Slick, taught me, he’s so good. The other thing I love is when my family goes to Chroy Changvar, a place in Phnom Penh where there’s lot of space to play. There’s not much space around here!

©UNICEF Cambodia/2020/Antoine Raab
UNICEF Cambodia/2020/Antoine Raab

I love my two little sisters, and one of them comes to school with me every day. My father is a carpenter and my mother is mostly a housewife. They’ve been in debt for a very long time, ever since I can remember. I know they worry about it. I would really like to make them happy, it would be my biggest wish in the world. I want to keep practicing my art and turn into a professional artist. I would like to sell my work in Cambodia and maybe even overseas. If I could make good money, I could pay off my parents debt and buy us a new house, a better one made of concrete. That would be amazing!

©UNICEF Cambodia/2020/Antoine Raab
UNICEF Cambodia/2020/Antoine Raab

When I was much smaller I was in an accident. There was a power cut which happens a lot in the area I live. So we tried to make light by burning some wood, but there were lots of chemicals on the wood and the fire got very strong. I was burnt on my face and my body and my arm and it hurt a lot. But it’s okay now, it doesn’t hurt any more. None of my friends are mean to me about my burns, I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who like me. I don’t let the burns bother me. I believe that if we behave well and have good morality and act well, then people will like us. It’s not appearance that matters most. People can see a beautiful heart.