As a young girl, Srun Keavatey would spend her days working in her mother’s grocery store, and at night, under the glow of a diesel lamp on the floor of their small thatch-roofed home, she would sit down to basic arithmetic and alphabet lessons taught by her parents. As a teenager, her father demanded that she give up her studies to focus on housework.
But she defied him, and pursued an education. More than a decade later, her life is a long way from her humble upbringing in Kompong Cham province’s Prey Chhor district, where her family still lives. Ms. Keavatey is now 23 years old, an investment manager for an infrastructure aid program where she directs spending toward clean water projects in rural villages much the same as the one where she was raised.