Mr Niang Chen
48 Years Old
Village: Ou Sralao
Commune: Ou Sralao
Province: Banteay Meanchey
Training: Motorbike Repair
Injury: Landmine - 1986 when he lost both legs fighting as a soldier in the war against the Khmer Rouge.
Losing both of his legs during the war had a devastating affect on Chen's life physically and emotionally. He required extensive counselling with TPO, a partner organisation with CWARS (as Lom Orng was then known), in order to turn his life around.
Prior to his CWARS training, Chen was confined to his house, taking care of his children and raising chickens. Chen believed the training he was receiving was so important, that during his stay at the Lom Orng vocational training facility he did nothing but study and practise his work. Even during his spare time and on weekends, he felt that he needed to be improving his skills. As a reward for his dedication, Chen has an extremely successful business, and a large shop full of supplies and equipment. Out of the two motorbike repairers in his community, he is the preferred repairer due to his formal training.
Before his injury, he was earning 7,000 Riel per day travelling to Thailand to work in the rice fields. Now, with his extensive training and the equipment supplied by Lom Orng, he is able to earn around 30,000 Riel per day without the long and difficult travelling. He is also able to rebuild motors in his village for around $US30, or 120,000 Riel.
His daughter is now married, and his son is enjoying his education at the local school. Chen enjoys high self-esteem and a new positive outlook on life, despite his disability.
If first impressions were everything, Chen would be the most successful and well-off of all the students I spoke to. He took great care in appearance, both personally and that of his business. His workshop was perfectly clean, and every part was in its place. All of this was despite losing both legs to a land mine. He is living proof that any student, if he is dedicated enough, can make a success out of his life. His business was doing so well he was even talking about expanding his shop further (it was already the largest I had seen). He was truly inspirational to me, and by the end I didn't even notice he had a disability. He would put a lot of able-bodied people to shame!