Risa's Story


My name is Lisa and I am a 12-year-old Cambodian girl. My father died in 2007 because he had HIV, now I'm living in a small room with my mother who also has HIV. We have other relatives but they reject us because of my mother's sickness.

When I was 8 years old, my mom find out that she had HIV. She needed to stay in the hospital and we did not have money for it. I was invited by the doctor of the hospital to act in a movie about HIV. After the movie, I received $25 US. I was very happy that I could help to support my mother. With this money, we bought medicines and some food and rice.

But the money was soon finished. So I had to find work as a caretaker, cleaner, or singing to earn money. Sometimes, I and my mother went with a drama group that she used to work with to other villages and provinces. It is quite hard to go village to village to act with the drama group and have to stay there. And sometimes, we did not have anywhere to sleep. I always felt very tired because we slept very late but I would not complain because I needed to support me and my mum.

Sometimes, it is hard when my mother is sick and I have to take care of her during the night, especially because our house is very small and hot.

A few years ago, I attended school for a while. However, when the children found out that my mother had HIV, they did not want to play with me anymore and I felt hopeless. After that, my mother moved to another town and I had to go back to work.

Near my house, many children did not want to play with me because my mother has HIV. I felt very sad.

One day, there was a neighbor who told my mother to take me to one organization close to where I live, that is called "Communities of Hope". I am so glad that I can study. I am doing the first grade. I have teachers who love me and I have many friends who play with me. They give me hope and encourage me every time. I feel warm and peaceful.

I am happy because I get some support for living expenses, so I do not need to work and I can study the whole day.

In the future, when I learn to read and write, I would like to learn a skill like hairdressing or makeup.