Growing up in a family of farmers in Kampong Cham (now Tbong Khmom), Koy Phong dreamt of getting quality education for himself and achieve his life goals. But he was asked to stop from completing his senior year in high school when his mother told him to marry.
“When I was studying in Grade 12, first semester, my mother told me to postpone my studies first and marry somebody. My mother said that I can continue studying after the wedding. But those things didn’t happen. I wasn’t able to get married because the girl and I had differences we couldn’t settle. We separated eventually,” shared Phong.
After his failed relationship, Phong’s teacher encouraged him to move on and find something that would help him grow and improve. So he decided to volunteer and join projects of a friend at Plan International Cambodia.
“Before I started to train with Plan, I felt like my life was similar to that of a kite. I had nowhere to go and nothing to do. I think about my future but there’s too much in my mind,” said Phong.
After volunteering, Phong continued with his training at Plan International Cambodia for three years where he studied various skills. The organisation encouraged him to master one skill and start a new life through it.
“The reason I choose to study machinery is because the number of cars in Cambodia just keeps increasing. There are lots of fixers but there are far more cars to be fixed,” he exclaimed.
With the support of Plan International Cambodia, Mr Phong trained at the National Polytechnic Institute of Cambodia (NPIC) and learned the technical aspects of repairing machines. His training was funded by Hyundai and KOICA for two years.
NPIC provided extensive training for Phong, letting him learn all the skills he needs to be a pro. After he finished his course, he trained at Hyundai’s assembly line at Koh Kong province for one month. He then trained in Phnom Penh for another three months, where he had learned the differences between original and second hand car materials.
After all his trainings, Phong now co-owns a garage. He opened his business eight months ago in Kampong Chhnang province. He employs a few people to help him with the work.
“Before, I had a lot of staff to help me but only few remained because they also gained the right skills to open their own garage. I am happy for them. Right now, my garage has been doing really well. We are busy here and we work for seven days a week. I am glad that my clients trust me and my garage,” said Phong, who is now 27.
Phong added that he is happy with the outcome of his training with Plan International Cambodia and NPIC. He aims to use his garage business to help not just himself but his parents as well.
Phong is also now happily married, though he had to stay far from his wife, who is currently in Phnom Penh. He said he visits his wife regularly. When his business gets bigger, Phong wants it to be the main source of their income and live a good life with his family.