Modern Superwoman: Meet Kimleng Tiv

Meet Kimleng Tiv, former student and now our workshop and events coordinator; and a super woman. Born and raised in Battambang, Kimleng loves working for Phare and has a message to empower girls in Cambodia:

“Don’t be afraid to be different.”

kimlengs portrait

Kimleng started working with her first NGO back when she was still in high school. When she was 17, she started volunteering with a local NGO, Puthi Komar Organization (PKO), as an administrative assistant.

After graduating, Kimleng enrolled at the University of Battambang, taking weekend courses in accounting. At the same time, she worked 40 hours a week in the NGO. This was a challenging time for young Kimleng, whose parents lived far away in the countryside:

“Sometimes, I had to choose between eating breakfast, and putting gas in my moto.”

But she didn’t give up. In 2015, she graduated from UBB. When it was time to look for her next position, she found herself returning to an organization from her childhood: Phare Ponleu Selpak.

young guitar student

Back in 2007, before she even started high school, Kimleng came to Phare to study music. She was brought here by her friend and neighbor, and she spent some time learning the guitar.

“At that time, I felt that Phare was such a beautiful place filled with friendly people who encouraged us young people to dream. I really loved it.”

Fast forward to 2015, and Kimleng was applying to work for the same organization. She was excited, and pretty nervous as well. Which makes sense, given her feelings about Phare.

“In high school I really wanted to work for Phare, but I was afraid to apply because I thought I didn’t have enough skills. But thankfully my friends pushed me to apply.”

In the end, Kimleng was hired as our development officer, working in a team of four women to find fundraising and work on relations with our donors. This year, she received a small promotion, and now is our workshop and events coordinator, scheduling workshops, cultural exchange trips, and generally working to improve the sustainability of all our artistic and educational programs here at Phare.

Today, Kimleng works full time at Phare, runs her own cosmetic business on nights and weekends, and is studying for the IELTS.

But why does a young Cambodian woman like Kimleng think working at an NGO is important?

“In Cambodia, some people work so hard and struggle all the time but still have nothing. I want to help those people who are struggling. I want to help them find opportunities.”

empower girls music
Photo: David Chantoiseau

The programs offered at Phare help lift young children up from dire circumstances, giving them skills to find solid employment in the arts. Equally important, an artistic education from Phare teaches young Cambodians to believe in themselves, no matter what their goal is. We provide empowerment through the arts.

“Phare is different from the rest of Cambodia because of its unique culture. In Cambodia women need to dress a certain way; act a certain way; and don’t get to study, but in Phare it’s different. At Phare they encourage young girls to study whatever they want. They tell us, go ahead and try, you can do anything.”

For Kimleng, she believes there is a bright future for girls in Cambodia. Especially if they can learn this one thing:

“You have to believe in yourself, and love yourself. If you work hard, you can do anything.”


Want to empower girls in Cambodia? A donation to Phare Ponleu Selpak allows us to provide artistic trainings in over 7 disciplines to young girls from Battambang. Donate today!

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