- November 21, 2022 6:10 PM
- September 27, 2023 4:12 PM
- July 20, 2020 12:32 PM
PHNOM PENH – After a year of living thousands of kilometers apart, a blind couple is reunited again in Australia, thanks to two scholarships granted to the spouses.
For more than a year, Van Sokvat and Min Chinda, a Cambodian couple suffering from blindness, have been living in a distance relationship, after Chinda received a scholarship from the Australian government.
The Cambodian awardee moved to Adelaide in 2022 to pursue a master’s degree in Policy and Disability Development at Flinders University. She brought the couple’s one-year-old daughter with her and received some help from friends to look after her.
A year later, her husband, Sokvat, was awarded another scholarship for a master’s degree in Inclusive and Educational Methodology at the same university.
He said that he had applied for the scholarship in the past, but didn’t get it … at least not until his request was eventually approved.
After living apart for more than a year, the family is finally together, in a foreign land. Sokvat made the journey to Australia in June.
“When I received the scholarship, I was very happy,” he said. “What made me even happier was that I got to see my family who went [to Australia] first. Our little girl was not even one year old when she left, and she’s now 21 months. I really missed her and I feel really happy to be with her again.”
He told ThmeyThmey that he could have come to Australia last year, as a family member of a scholarship recipient, but decided against it as he wanted to come on his own and make the most of an education grant.
Chinda said that having her husband in Australia, living under the same roof, is a very good feeling.
“We are happy to have the opportunity to live together, especially in another country, where we can learn a new culture and a new way of life,” she said.
“[My husband] helps look after our daughter. When I was alone at night, it was hard to do anything, but now he’s here too, he can help in the house.”
Now that the family is reunited, the parents will be able to fully focus on their studies.
They both agree on the fact that studying in Australia as a disabled person is easier than in Cambodia. The education system there is more developed, with curriculums dedicated to people with disabilities that allow them to attend classes like any other student.
Once graduated, the couple plans to come back to Cambodia to help disabled people.
“I want to develop a better education system for people with disabilities and the underprivileged in Cambodia,” Sokvat said.
Originally written in Khmer for ThmeyThmey, this story was translated by Torn Chanritheara for Cambodianess.