Meet Votey

#Reimagine: Meet Votey, a future medic who will save children's lives.

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

I am Votey. I was born with an eye problem. I don’t see from one eye and it’s also not straight. Sometimes people at school tease me. I keep studying and ignore them. I used to go to the eye hospital often when I was younger, but we haven’t been able to afford to go for a while. My mother is a waitress and my grandmother sells cakes at the school, so during COVID-19 we had less money. When I am 16, I will be old enough to have an operation on my eye in Siem Reap, and I think that will make life better. But in the meantime, if kids are mean to me, I tell them that I might have an eye problem but that doesn’t hurt anyone, but if you are mean to me you might get bad karma which can hurt you!

I live with nine people in two rooms on the outskirts of Banlung city. My father left when I was young and hasn’t visited since I was a baby, but I love my mother and my grandparents who live with us. I have a big family with lots of cousins, which I like because we play and have fun with hide and seek or water fights.

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

I love my school because it is clean and beautiful, and there are really cool animal statues, but mostly because I want to learn. I want knowledge because I want to be able to be whatever I want when I grow up, I want to have that freedom. My mother dropped out at grade 8 so she encourages me to learn so I’ll have good chances. She says that without education, it’s difficult to find a good job.

My hope is to study in Thailand and then become a doctor to help my family and other people. In fact, I want to specialise in immunizing children, because I remember getting a vaccine when I was little and I know it helped me because I never got sick. I do worry about COVID and other illnesses. Sometimes I worry that more people are going to get sick in the future and that can bring more sadness in Cambodia. I’d like to try and change that.