“I think I have something special in me…”says Au Virack or Srey Leak to his friends. He is one of the transgender who works at KDFO Club and was nominated as one of MStyle’s heroes. Srey Leak is 29 years old and lives in Preik Prang District, Khan Mencheay, Phnom Penh, one of the Club’s target areas. When the club began its orientation and information dissemination to reach out to MSM, MSM/W and transgender like him, he then decided to volunteer.
Volunteering is very rewarding job but sometimes, very difficult, said Srey Leak. He only gets $50 as monthly incentive but he said he does not complain because he loves the job. He was before a factory worker, tied up in a routine and confined within the walls of his work place. He said he felt very empty inside. He had no awareness and knowledge about health issues such as HIV/AIDS, safe sex, etc., but his world changed when he became part of MStyle. Although he receives less money compared to being a factory worker, he said that he would not trade it for anything else. He feels the significance and self-fulfilment that his present job gives to him because he educates people on HIV/AIDS, the importance of blood testing and of having safe sex, etc. He also encourages people, especially the target groups, to join and use the club’s services.
During his free time, Srey Leak would help his mother sell noodles, rice, pork, etc, to augment the family income. He said that he is lucky because his parents accepted him as he is; he did not feel that they were ashamed of him, being a transgender. He noted that his parents, friends and neighbours had appreciated his work at the MStyle club since he is helping the society. This appreciation and support greatly contributed to his positive outlook in life.
The KDFO Club team nominated Srey Leak’s as MStyle hero because of his numerous contribution to the club. His attitude is exemplary, he is not afraid to speak out and he is full of confidence. He does his job well and does not mind even if he has to work longer hours.
“MSM, MSM/W, gays and transgender should value themselves. We must think that we (transgender, MSM, MSM/W, gays), are always in the watchful eye of the people. Many people hold to that idea that we are bad and abnormal people. Thus, we have to be more careful. I agree that there are some ill-behaved MSM, transgender and gays but what saddened me is that people tend to generalize. This poses a challenge to all of us. We must prove to the society that we have abilities and we can help the country move forward” Srey Leak concluded.