Back on Board: Meet Arunny

Arunny is 12 and she lives in Phnom Penh with her mother. She started coming to Skateistan late in 2020, when the Skate School had reopened after the first Covid-19 lockdown. 


Arunny’s mom worked as a housekeeper and she’s a single parent. She didn’t get the chance to attend school and she cannot read and write. Her mom alone has to pay the bills for food, accommodation and raising her kid, and she strives for her family’s survival. Arunny doesn’t attend regular school because she doesn’t have some of her official documentation. So Skateistan is the only place where she can learn, play and socialize.  


During the pandemic, Arunny’s home life became tougher. Like many workers around the world, her mom lost her job which meant they had very little money coming in. As a young girl, Arunny reported that she doesn’t know how to deal with her family situation. She and her mom were just hoping the pandemic would pass quickly so her mom could return to work and Arunny could return to Skateistan.


Arunny loves Skate School and she works hard to improve her skills in the classroom. She says she feels pressure sometimes to do well because her family situation is hard. Her mom is keen for Arunny to keep studying so she can get a better job. She wants her daughter to go further than she has done. 


When the lockdown began in Cambodia in March 2020, Skateistan had to close.


“It's hard for me to describe how I felt about my Skate School closure. This is the only place I could learn. In this time, my passion and enthusiasm for study have become stronger.”

When the first lockdown ended, Arunny was happy to get back to school and keep pursuing her dreams. She joined the Dropping In program and Youth Leadership and she also joined the Global Girl Project, which aims to help girls develop their voices and leadership skills. She was excited about being with Skateistan as she’s seen her progress rapidly improve. She became a braver and stronger girl and equipped herself with basic technological knowledge like typing and accessing online learning. She always used to attend her classes and managed to help younger students in her extra hours.


Sadly, Cambodia went back into lockdown at the start of 2021 and Arunny found herself back in the same situation. Skateistan had to close its doors again and she was worried she would lose her momentum and the progress she had made. 


Once again Arunny cannot socialize and meet face-to-face with her friends like before. She has been engaging with the remote programs that are offered through the Skate School. For Arunny, she is glad that she can still carry on learning but she can’t wait to get back to Skate School and attend programs in person.


“I feel excited when my skate school reopens because it allows me to gain more from my studies like participating in English and computer classes and also to socialize with my friends.”

Her mom is also keen for Arunny to get back to Skateistan. She said:

“In the past my daughter used to be shy and not confident to talk with her friends but now she has become more confident and independent to try new things on her own. She also can help teach smaller children and her friends.”

We are hoping that we’ll be able to start in-person programs in Cambodia very soon and we can’t wait to welcome Arunny and her friends once again. We’ll focus on helping students like Arunny to process what has happened during the pandemic and to voice their concerns and hopes for the future. 


Can you support students like Arunny to get Back on Board