Cambodian People’s Faces As They Really Are (No. 9): Ms. Chanlaksmey (Accountant)

[Original by Asami ISHIYAMA, 2015 Cambodia Office Intern (September 12, 2016); Translated by Y. Nakamura/A. Senkoff]

Ms. Chanlaksmey kindly smiling to accept photo shooting.

This time I would like to introduce Ms. Chanlaksmey, a graceful lady engaged in accounting at our office in Phnom Penh. Ms. Chanlaksmey is a Catholic in a country where Buddhism prevails, so I was able to listen to her interesting stories which differ considerably to the other staff members. Please read the contents of her interview now.

Which province do you come from?

I come from Componcham province. Because I could obtain scholarship for four years at university, I came to Phnom Penh to study accounting.

Why did you intend to learn accounting?

I had dreamed of learning it since my childhood. Since it was cool and tidy, I liked to work at office and also wear miniskirts. When I saw my elder sister working at office, I wondered “how pretty she was.” In addition, I had been fond of playing with telephones for a long time.

That is so. Is your family still living in Componcham province?

When I was 12th grade (3rd year high school) student, my father died owing to illness. I am the eldest of four siblings, having one younger sister and two younger brothers. My sister is a mathematics teacher at middle school. She is also studying to get a master’s degree. The eldest of my brothers is running a shop of accessories in Siem Reap province by making rings, necklaces, and pierced earrings. He did not study this at school but probably learned about it by exchanging knowledge with his acquaintances. The youngest brother is now staying at home due to illness, but I would like to help him study at school in the future.

You are married, aren’t you?

Ms. Eng and Ms. Chanlaksmey taught me how to cook “SaamRoa Curry” at the Phnom Penh office.

Yes, I got married at the age of 23 in 2013. I received a scholarship for university from the organization called as the Catholic Church Student Center. I stayed in its dormitory in Phnom Penh, where I met my current husband. He is two years older than me and believes in the Catholic faith. He is now working for an NGO in Phnom Penh.

We had two wedding ceremonies in a day! In the morning, we had a Cambodian traditional ceremony at home. My mother is not a Christian. As I respected her, I wanted to have a wedding ceremony in Cambodian traditional way for her. In the daytime, we had the second one in Christian way. We invited different guests to each of two ceremonies in a day!

Did you become a Christian because you received the scholarship?

No. When I was a child, I had many Christian friends around me. There were various events at a church, and my friends invited me to attend them. Then, I wanted to attend those events and I started to go to church.

Do you have any problem with being a Catholic when living in a Buddhist country like Cambodia?

Well, I scarcely felt troubled about it, because I had many Christian friends of same generation, even though there were a lot of Buddhists living in villages of my home province, Componcham province. When an event is held there, I sometimes visit a temple in order to make my mother happy.

I see. By the way, did you join JVC just after graduation from university?

No, I assisted accounting work at a Catholic church in Componcham province. After I got married and moved to Phnom Penh, I was hired as an accountant at an Italian NGO. According to my recollection there were five staff members. All the staff members, including me who was in charge of accounting, went to our project site in Takeo province and stayed there for two days a week every week. I worked there for almost two years. Thereafter, I applied to work at JVC, because I wanted to settle down in Phnom Penh in consideration of my family’s situation.

Do you have any problems with working at JVC?

Perfect style for rice-planting, protecting herself against sunburn. As she came in a pure white hat and scarf, I said to her, “Is it all right?”

No, I don’t have anything special. Even if I made a mistake or were unsure of something, my colleagues could help me to find and correct it or solve my problems. Accounting is not as difficult as it looks at first. On the contrary, I enjoy working together with our current staff. Because each staff member has different character, I think it is enjoyable to me to meet and work with them.

[My impression on Ms. Chanlaksmey after interview]

The last time I could see staff members at JVC’s Cambodia Office. From left: Mr. Cheng Ngov, Ms. Chanlaksmey, the writer, Ms. Eng, Mr. Bunroeurn, and Ms. Inagaki.

My impression is that she is exceptionally mild-mannered, while there are many vigorous members at JVC. I also think she is rather frank and open-hearted. I love her character of doing things in her own way; she goes outside for coolness by herself, while other staff members are laughing so much that their excitements will not end. Although she is friendly with others, she likes to keep at her own pace. She said, “It is not difficult to believe in the Catholic faith in Cambodia.” I think she is so strong at heart that she can say so.

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