We have had many staff members coming through PCDO. Each one has been special and we miss every single one of them. We have been lucky with our staff members and regardless of where they are after PCDO, they are still dear to us. Last week we said goodbye to one of the integral part of PCDO, our Operations Manager, Pel Sokkorn, who has been with us for an amazing four years. A Facebook post is not enough to highlight what he has done for PCDO. We hope through this post that we can do his achievements some justice.
Sokkorn started in PCDO as a skinny young man of 24 as the head of centre, where he sleeps and breathes in the school for 24 hours a day. He’d wake up early before the children come to the locked gates of PCDO at seven in the morning, already having cleaned the classrooms and prepared himself. The day would finish late back then, as we had the evening classes for mature-aged students, where he taught a beginners class himself.
He stayed upstairs in a small room, about five metre squares in all, on a thin straw mat and a modest set of cushions. Even to this day he still lives humbly in a small room, ingeniously making his life comfortable from small things: cooking with a beer can, making arts and crafts from plastic rubbish and repairing household fixtures himself, as he is skilled to do.
It was Sokkorn’s ability to make something out of nothing that has built PCDO to where it is today, his ability to repair broken things, plan things for the convenience of others and executing the plans himself. Sometimes we’d go out for lunch and come back to school to find out that the whole lighting fixtures and the alarm has been rewired. He installs ceiling fans left, right and centre in a blink of an eye, fixes broken tables and sort out the finances of the school. Not to mention he is also skilled in fixing computers, using Photoshop and building websites. Just when you think that he’s finished his bags of tricks, he pulls another one from his sleeve.
But his abilities stretch beyond his abnormally varied technical skills, it is his ability to lead others and inspire them in his soft-spoken manner which separates him from most individuals. He has a way of dealing with the children, without corporal punishment, to advise them on their errors and to induce them to think twice about their actions. The children revere and respect him, as well as staff members and people from the community. He has truly become an ideal role model for the students in PCDO.
But we respect Sokkorn because of his ability to handle difficult situations, which are quite commonplace in PCDO. Some of these challenges are physically demanding, as anyone in the village would attest, such as sweeping floodwaters away from the classrooms and moving furniture around between buildings. There were other mental challenges that he had to go through himself. Although I won’t disclose them here, the way he went about these challenges show a deep measure of character.
For his 25th birthday, having spoken to twenty former volunteers, we pledged to put him through a scholarship. Even though we gave him a blank check, he chose to do interior design. Just as he left last week, he will embark on his final year. He has just recently married one of our former staff members here two months ago and he is looking to expand his own family. It was a good time to go from PCDO and to start his new life. We wish him all the luck that he may have.