I’ve been a volunteering as a member of the Room to Read Boston Chapter Core Team for almost three years. During this time, I’ve heard John Wood, Room to Read Founder and Board Co-Chair, speak in person in Boston on three occasions and seen Erin Ganju, Co-Founder and CEO speak at TedX Berkeley (see my earlier blog post). Both John and Erin are inspiring speakers who are firmly committed to Room to Read’s mission.
But tonight I was completely blown away by one of Room to Read’s international directors: Cambodia country director Kall Kahn. In the basement of the Elephant Walk in Cambridge, Kall shared the story of his life before and after the Khmer Rouge. Many members of his immediate family were killed in the genocide and he fled to the mountains for his life. After several years in hiding he returned to Phnom Penh as an older teen and was determined to complete his primary and high school educations. He not only completed these goals but also went on to study and receive his master’s degree in business management from Norton University in Phnom Penh. For Kall to achieve these goals without the primary support of his immediate family against the backdrop of the Khmer Rouge made me, and many others in attendance cry.
Kall’s passion is contagious in a soft and measured way. He believes that a successful Cambodia begins with the education of its children. This core belief was confirmed when Kall was asked: “What is the greatest obstacle to Room to Read’s success?” he gave a thoughtful and inspiring answer: “It is the mindset of the Cambodian people. We need all of them—children, parents, grandparents, the government—to understand that education is the key to success for our children.”
What more can be said?
See a related post on the Needham Patch blog: http://needham.patch.com/articles/eliot-school-hosts-cambodian-speaker