In this article, Xavier Jesuit School in Cambodia shares a story of resilience and inspiration. This story was originally shared in Xavier Jesuit School’s Newsletter.

Staying “Positive”: A Story of Resilience and Inspiration

Rumi, 14 years old, a Grade 9 student at Xavier Jesuit School.
*Not her real name

She lives with her parents, grandparents, and a younger sister in Phnom Bak Village. Her parents make a living by selling food at Teuk Thla Market, which is about five minutes away from school by motorcycle. Mid-August, the news sparked that all vendors of that market had to take swab test because one person from that place tested positive. Though she had witnessed some other vendors coughed or sneezed, it never occurred to her that it might have been COVID-19 already.

“I was nervous when we were doing the test. I was so scared. I don’t know what may happen to us if we test positive.” Upon receiving the results showing that all members of her family tested positive, a military car came to pick them up to bring them to Sereisophon High School which was converted to a quarantine facility.

Rumi shared that some doctors came to the quarantine facility to guide them on what to do while staying there. At that time, the elderlies received packages that include serums, some medicines, and thermometers for their respective families. She said that her father consistently monitored their family’s health and encouraged them whenever they feel sad. In addition, she shared that the government provided delicious meals three times a day and those meals made her excited every day.

“At that time, I saw how my parents were trying hard to help us all recover. So even if I were sick, I tried my best to continue studying online. Also, my friends kept on contacting me and helped me cope with my studies.” This served as Rumi’s inspiration to continue studying even if it had been a struggle for her to find a quiet place due to the number of people in that place.

“Do you know that I spent my birthday there also?” Rumi asked and she added that it was an unhappy moment because on that same day her grandfather got more critical and had to be transferred to a proper hospital. Both her parents had to go with her grandfather leaving her, her grandma, and her younger sister in Sereisophon.

“I know I had to remain strong for my grandma and my younger sister. But days after my parents and grandfather moved to Mongkol Borey Hospital, we received news that my grandpa passed away.” Rumi narrated. “I cried a lot. At that time, I got angry. COVID took away my grandfather. And it scared me more because I don’t know what may happen next.”

Finally, on 8th September, Rumi and all her other family members were declared virus-free and were allowed to go home. Rumi shared that she felt happy and thankful that the rest of them survived. However, she still misses her grandpa.

“But I can’t hate COVID. I think what is important is that we need to love ourselves and our family. We should take care of ourselves and think of how we can protect one another. For me, to be healthy is to continue feeling and giving love and happiness to others.” Rumi said tearfully.

Now, Rumi is back to her cheerful self and participating well on her online classes and getting ready for the second semester exams. She is also very determined to pass the National Exams considering the love and support she has been receiving from her whole family.

Whenever we think about the impacts of pandemic toward education, we often think of the significant amount of challenges it brought due to the repetitive school closures. However, the actual impact of this pandemic really hit us hard when our students and teachers one-by-one started contracting the disease. As a realization, the school’s presence is not only to serve continuous education at this time but also to offer support and ensure the welfare of all the members of the school community.

This pandemic will continue to send shockwaves to all of us but the XJS is determined to withstand this adversity together.