Living her dream: from teacher to peacekeeper in Aweil
Captain Thavin Khon from Cambodia is a teacher by profession and passionate about education by nature. She knows that without peace, schools rarely function, thus depriving children of the future they deserve. That is why she wanted to become a peacekeeper, and now she is living her dream, in Aweil in Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal State.
“My country used to be at war, just like South Sudan. I want everyone to enjoy the freedom and personal growth that education can offer,” says 32-year-old Captain Khon.
She is currently a military liaison officer, serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.
“My wish has always been to ensure that people can live in peace and harmony. That is why I joined the peacekeeping unit of the Cambodian army, but little did I realize that one day, I would actually be serving in South Sudan as a peacekeeper. I am very happy here,” says Captain Khon, who already has ten years of military experience under her belt.
On this day, however, she has at least partly switched back to teacher mode. Captain Khon and some of her compatriots are visiting Hai Matar Primary School, and they have brought treats to its keen learners: textbooks, pens, pencil and sharpeners are handed out to smiling children.
“I feel so bad when I see children here not going to school, or not having the material they need. These children are the future of this country. They deserve adequate schooling, just like everybody else,” she says.
Unfortunately, such basic services are not always delivered in South Sudan, where the education system suffers badly from factors ranging from insecurity and a lack of schools and properly trained teachers to forced early marriages, unwanted pregnancies and high dropout rates, particularly among girls.
The UN family is trying to contribute to a better future for the sons and daughters of the host country. By means of a Quick Impact Project, Hai Matar Primary School has already, in May 2019, received a much-needed boost: four new classrooms were financed by the peacekeeping mission.
“I appreciate these efforts, but we need school uniforms as well,” says 15-year-old Angelina Mateo Ayak.
“We need two more classrooms to be constructed,” adds Mary, another pupil at the school.
Captain Khon, already a bit of a role model among colleagues and host communities alike, would like to take her assistance beyond the handing out of textbooks.
“All children should be going to school, and I am ready to teach them!”