The resilience of Leng :

The resilience of Leng

Leng, a former PSE student, in front of his café in Kampot

Portrait of a life transformed, that of Leng, thanks to PSE's action in favour of the poorest children.

Inspiring stories

The tuk-tuk dropped me off in front of an old yellow colonial house on a busy little street in Kampot, a town famous for its eponymous pepper. As I approach, a voice calls out to me: "Sophie?" It's Leng, a former PSE student who I was advised to meet because of his moving story. Leng is in his thirties, but his face bears the marks of a difficult past. He takes me out of the way so that we can talk, away from the noise of the city. He is happy to talk to me about his life story, "a way of giving hope to the younger generation", he tells me. 

Leng is discreet, but you can see the emotion on his face as he tells me his story. "When I was a child, I had to go and work on the dumpsite to help my family," he recalls. "At the time, we didn't realise that it was a terrible situation. For us, it was normal to be there, working and living off the leftovers". It's hard to imagine that for thousands of children, the only prospect for the future was a wasteland piled high with tonnes of foul-smelling waste. It was also a dangerous place. "We were scared there! Some people tried to extort money from us, so we ran away as fast as we could," recalls Leng.

The thirty-year-old tells me that despite this childhood, which I find so unbearable to imagine, he sometimes felt happy. An example of resilience that raises questions about the notion of happiness. 

A life-changing encounter

In 1998, Leng spotted two strangers on the dumpsite: they were Christian and Marie-France des Pallières, the founders of PSE. At first frightened by the couple, not least because of the stories they told about foreigners, Leng was finally won over by the chocolate offered by those nicknamed Papy and Mamie. "I was able to shower, eat my fill and go to school for the very first time," he says with a huge smile, probably the same one he had 25 years ago.

"Without PSE, I'd probably still be collecting rubbish, or I might even have become a gangster", he explains. And yet, today he is the manager of a hotel in Kampot, in addition to his café which he opened almost 6 months ago, married to his first love (whom he met at PSE!) and the father of 4 beautiful children whom I am also lucky enough to meet.

"Thanks to PSE, I received a good education and was able to study for a Master's degree," explains Leng. An exemplary role model!

Leng in class at PSE with his friends and teacher

Blossoming at peace with your past

One question springs to mind in the light of this man's success: is it difficult to talk about your past when you hold a position of responsibility? "On the contrary," exclaims Leng. "All my partners know my story and I'm proud of it. Some of them don't believe me: how can you imagine that a director could have been a child who collected rubbish? So I show them photos and tell them over and over again".

Leng and his wife also tell their children. They also take them to PSE to show them where they grew up and met. 

And today, Leng is thinking about how he can help PSE and inspire young people. Stay tuned!

Leng in class at PSE
Leng holding a trophee
Leng and his wife at PSE
Leng and his wife today

A success made possible thanks to sponsorship

Since the beginning of their actions in Cambodia, Christian and Marie-France des Pallières, the founders of PSE, have chosen to rely on sponsorship to ensure the sustainability of the association's programmes. The commitment we make to the children is strong: we lead them from misery to a profession!

The comprehensive care we offer the children is long-term. We commit ourselves to the end and do not leave any child by the side of the road. 

Find out more about sponsorship