Changing the Story: This is Pisey.
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Pisey was interviewed by Tin.
Pisey* is 11 years old and lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She came to Skateistan through our partner organization, Aziza’s place, an NGO in Cambodia which supports vulnerable children and their families.
Pisey has not had an easy life. When she was very young, there were problems in her family and she has seen a lot of violence. When she first started going to Aziza’s place, she said to her social worker there, “I would like to stop this but as I am so small I could not do anything but watch my parents fight.”
In 2014, Pisey’s father moved to Thailand to find a job and Pisey and her mother were left alone. Pisey’s mother needed money and wanted Pisey to help by collecting cans on the street. This meant that Pisey did not go to school and had no friends of her own age.
In the same year that Pisey started attending Aziza’s place, Skateistan began partnering with them so that children could benefit from skateboarding and creative education. Pisey registered to take part in the Skate and Create program, which combines the fun and freedom of skateboarding with arts-based education on subjects like human rights, the environment, staying healthy and the importance of safety. For children who have experienced trauma, like Pisey, the self-expression and sense of improvement that comes with skateboarding can be really powerful.
Because of her homelife, Pisey found it hard to trust anyone at Skateistan and she was very withdrawn. Her social worker from Aziza’s place said:
“Pisey was very shy and was afraid of many things. She always spent time alone and she did not have any relationship with her classmates and did not talk to any Educators.”
Initially, Skateistan’s staff in Phnom Penh found it very difficult to speak with her because she did not reply. She would stay alone and did not involve herself in any activities with other children. She was resistant to any suggestion to try. But Skateistan’s Educators did not give up and worked with her slowly, always encouraging her to try new things. Together with Aziza’s place, Skateistan Community Educators also worked to engage her parents (her dad has returned from Thailand) and to encourage them to learn new skills for a more peaceful home. They helped Pisey’s parents to see how important it is that she has time to have fun, to try new things and to explore her interest and potential.
Gradually, Pisey became interested in the Skate and Create program and she realized she was in a safe space. She started to take more interest in her creative lessons and even to try skateboarding.
“I fell down many times from my skateboard, but I keep getting up and trying again. And now, I am not afraid anymore because my teacher motivated me. Skateboarding made me feel happy and forget my fear.” said Pisey.
Pisey’s favorite lessons so far have been ones where she has been able to make something new from something old. Last year, she made her own sandals from old materials as well as a new backpack from old clothes.
Tin, Skateistan’s Programs Officer, has noticed significant changes during the last four years. “She is very brave now, very confident in herself and I am so proud that she changed into positive person.” said Tin.
“I don’t believe my eyes anymore when I see her drop in from big ramp” said Marady, the social worker from Aziza’s Place.
Pisey is now working very closely with other friends at the skatepark, helping them to succeed as she has done. “If I see my friends fall down, I help them to get up and we retry together. I like to help my friends and I hope they skate like me.” said Pisey.
Through the program, Pisey has saved herself from the darkness. She is now confident and brave and she has many new friends.
For children growing up in unstable environments, the future can be a difficult concept. Our creative education programs spark ideas about how the world could be different and give children a chance to see how they can play a role in creating a better future for themselves and their communities. You can help to change their stories.
For their future. Donate today.
*Pisey’s name has been changed in accordance with Skateistan’s Child Protection Policy.