To accomplish her goals took years of perseverance and hard work.

She spent her days in Smoky Mountain

When Sophy Ron was a child, she spent 8 years essentially living in a notorious Cambodian garbage dump called Steng Meanchey, also known as “Smoky Mountain.”

Every day, Ron would join thousands of people picking through the garbage amidst toxic fumes in hopes of finding food and recyclables to sell. In a day’s work, she’d earn about 0.50 cents a day, enough for a few cups of rice to share with her parents and six siblings.

“I didn’t realize it was smelly, I didn’t realize it was dirty,” she told ABC Australia in 2019, adding that the local school didn’t have space for her.

“I slept there, I ate there, I did everything there, so it became my home.”

Sophy Ron

The opportunity to change her life

But one day, she met Scott Neeson, the founder of the Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF).

“He asked me whether I wanted to study English, and at that time I had no idea what English was,” she told ABC Australia.

“I ran home feeling happy because he promised he would take me to school.”

Ron recalls her first day of school at age 11 — it was the first time she saw groups of other children playing and laughing.

Ron worked hard at school and managed to earn a scholarship to complete a pre-college year of study at the University of Melbourne’s Trinity College.

She has since started a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Melbourne and hopes to return to Cambodia and start a business.

“I can’t really describe the feeling. I hope it changes my life in the future,” she said.

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Throughout her journey, Ron had many chances to let go and stop her incredible success story. But she persevered, prompting her to share these words of wisdom:

“I have this message throughout my life journey: a not-giving-up message. It doesn’t matter in what circumstances.”

Sophy Ron

Make your dreams come true

This story isn’t about how Ron got an opportunity — sadly, millions of children in poverty don’t get a helping hand. It’s about Ron’s hard work to take that opportunity and transform it into a new path for herself. It couldn’t have been easy.

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