In an inspiring achievement, two students from Cambodia’s impoverished areas, Bun Malita, 18, and Len Leang, 20, have been granted scholarships to study at Trinity College, a renowned institution affiliated with the University of Melbourne, Australia.

These young scholars, beneficiaries of the efforts of Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF), amplify the organisation’s influence in transforming Cambodian youth lives.

With Malita and Leang joining the July intake at Trinity College, the tally of CCF students receiving full scholarships at the institution rises to nine.

This increment underscores the strengthening partnership between the two institutions and its potent impact on the Cambodian youth’s lives.

“I’m in a really privileged position to have known you all since your first day at CCF, some of you were just four or five years old. What you’ve accomplished is phenomenal, I couldn’t be prouder,” expressed Scott Neeson, CCF founder and executive director.

CCF, an NGO situated in Stung Meanchey, offers education and a proven escape route from poverty for nearly 1,800 children from impoverished communities annually.

The Neeson Cripps Academy, CCF’s flagship high school, equips students with quality education, empowering them to apply for international scholarships upon Grade 12 graduation.

In 2017, Trinity College kickstarted this life-altering opportunity for CCF students by offering full scholarships for their Foundation Year programme, a preparatory course for degree studies.

“These students have not only succeeded but they’ve excelled,” remarked Ben Waymire, senior regional manager at Trinity College.

He added: “I thought it was time to come together and celebrate some of the achievements of the students. I think it’s cause for celebration and to recognise the achievement of such a fantastic project”.

The first CCF Trinity Scholar, Sophy Ron, graduated from the University of Melbourne in 2022, majoring in media communications and international relations.

Rescued from the Stung Meanchey garbage dump at age 10, never having attended school, her journey attests to the transformative power of education.

“We are incredibly proud to partner with CCF and the university to have these scholarships for these wonderful Cambodian students,” stated Scott Charles, the deputy warden at Trinity College.

“We’re also very proud of all of the students who have managed to go through and graduate, and who are with us now. We’re very excited about having the next couple who will join us,” he continued.

The selection process for the 2023 scholarships involved thorough evaluations, including two maths and English tests followed by panel interviews.

Out of the initial pool of ten shortlisted applicants, Bun Malita and Len Leang emerged as the final two young scholars, displaying exceptional acumen and dedication.

Malita, who began schooling at age six upon joining CCF, has matured into a remarkable young leader.

“I am so thankful for this opportunity. My mum is very proud of me,” shared Malita, who is soon to travel to Australia for the first time. “I will study hard and fulfil my dream. I am looking forward to Trinity”.

Leang’s journey is also a powerful testament to resilience. Leang, who lost her mother at a young age and whose father works as a trash scavenger, has never left Cambodia nor boarded an aeroplane before.

“It is all going to be a new experience for me. I am excited to learn about a new culture but nervous because it’s my first time leaving Cambodia,” Leang shared.

Sokchannin Kram, CCF’s senior education manager, underscored the significance of the partnership with Trinity College, hailing the unparalleled opportunities it offers CCF students to study abroad.

Kram stated: “The partnership with Trinity is very important for CCF, giving our students a wonderful opportunity to study overseas”.

“We look forward to more CCF students gaining scholarships in the future,” Kram added.

The scholarships awarded to Bun Malita and Len Leang epitomise the life-altering power of organisations like CCF and Trinity College, access to education, and examples of excellence can have on the lives of underprivileged students.

As these young scholars gear up to chase their dreams at one of Australia’s top universities, their success story shines as a beacon of hope and inspiration for countless others facing similar struggles.