School of survival, photo story in process

Written by on April 17, 2011 in Photo Posts, Photos and Stories in Progress with 0 Comments

I started working on this story last month (Feb, 2011). I’d love to finish it well and get it published. It’s a behind the scenes story (with individual stories) of hard work and hope we can all relate to but few ever see this way.

Cambodians are streaming into Phnom Penh every day looking for a new start in the big city. Young people come to attend universities and vocational school. They all have dreams that begin with finding a way to make money.  This story is about a vocational school that trains students how to repair cars and  motorcycles. Two or three hundred students are crammed inside at any given time. They range from young kids straight off the farm to well-worn men in their forties. Each can graduate with a certificate as soon as they master the material and pass the tests. They pay a relatively low one time fee that’s good for as long as they want to stay. Most live upstairs free of charge, cooking and caring for themselves: no alcohol is permitted and the doors are locked every night at 7pm. Many vocational schools in Phnom Penh are scams; they prey on people from the countryside. But this school has qualified teachers and the graduates really find jobs. It’s a struggle, but it’s paying off.

Here are a few photographs to give a sense of where this could go.

Re-assembling a motorcycle engine as other students observe

Each student has a unique story to tell

A teacher supervises students working on car engines

Studying after hours



About the Author

About the Author: Andy Gray is a writer and photographer living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and working with Alongsiders International. You can find him puttering around the streets of Phnom Penh on his Suzuki Viva 125, running stoplights and driving on the wrong side of the road or on the sidewalks like a local. If you see him in a coffee shop, he'll be the one typing and deleting the same line over and over again. .


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