I am sitting here with one of the most inspirational people I have ever met. His name is Len Laim and he is currently a medical student in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It hasn't always been that way though. He was born in Siem Reap in a small farming village. He has 2 brothers and 3 sisters who are all still in Seam reap, in school and working on the farm with his mother and father. He was just a normal student in a small rural village until the age 17 when he met a western man from the US named Charles (the man I am crashing with in Kampot). Charles saw huge potential in Laim and took him under his wing along with several other students in Siem reap. This began a long term relationship between teacher and student. Since age 17 in 2007 Laim has been working non stop. He would not be another statistic floating down the stream that is cambodian youth. He chose to invest in a bicycle instead of a motor bike like every other person in Cambodia has. He realizes the importance of preserving the environment and keeping his body and mind healthy. I feel like I share so many things in common with Laim and that we connect on a very simple level. We are both fighting against the stream and trying to live extraordinary lives. Laim's family cannot support him coming to school in Phnom Penh, so he has learned a few tricks along the way to raise money on the internet thanks to Charles and his many try and fail attempts. He cannot afford housing or food while he goes to school so he lives at the local Pagoda (temple) alongside the monks while attending university. All of his spare time is spent studying and preparing for class. He has only one uniform and he told me if he gets it dirty it is very bad and he cannot go to class.
Yesterday I went with Laim to a local computer store and bought him his first laptop. I believe that the laptop is the most powerful tool for a student, especially one studying to be a doctor! He was so grateful for this opportunity and I am totally humbled by his persistence in life and his drive to succeed. I also got him a digital camera, so now he has everything to maintain websites which Charles taught him to create. I believe this is the best investment I
have ever made. Investing in the future of Cambodia and in the people that can actually make a change in this country. He is a classic case of the incredible potential the youth in this country possesses.
His story is one of inspiration, at age 19 he was able to raise enough money and support to have a simple 2 room school built in his village. He also studied diligently and was able to pass the test needed to attend medical school. While enjoying his first cappuccino ever last night he told me of his dreams to create a program in rural areas that will incorporate free or little cost healthcare for all poor villagers. This comes from growing up in a village riddled with land mines and personally experiencing friends and family that lost their lives and limbs to these deadly atrocities. He has lofty goals for Cambodia but I believe he is the perfect man for the job. He is not afraid to stand up to authority and speak his mind like so many other Cambodians are.
I have spent the last two days with Laim and have decided to stay in Phnom Penh for an unknown length of time. I will stay at the Pagoda with him and his monk roommate. He's going to take me around the city and show me all the touristy and not so touristy sites. Today we spent the whole day together and man, he is one of the smartest people I have ever met. He speaks English, Khmer, Japanese and French, all self taught, and I bitch about not being able to to ride my bike because of schoolwork. He's been in Phnom Penh at med school for over 2 months now and he barely has any free time at all. He was doing all of this from computer cafe's that charge 2000 riel per hour. Needless to say having a personal computer at his disposal is going to make his life much easier for him.
Here are some links to pages he has created.
Please, add his as a friend on facebook if you want
to follow and or support him.http://www.facebook.com/lenlaim