The Girl

“This is not the end. It is the beginning.”

Sokha and Loung

Sokha was a Cambodian child of the dump; orphaned and forced to pick through garbage to survive. But, through a series of miracles, Sokha finds her way to school and, like a phoenix, rises to become a star student on the brink of a brilliant and once unimaginable future.

The Writer

Sokha’s story is told by Loung Ung, one of the most powerful voices to emerge from Cambodia. Her bestselling memoirs, like First They Killed My Father, have brought home the tragedy of Cambodia for millions of readers.

The Country

Cambodia’s children suffer for the sins of their fathers. In the 1970s, the Khmer Rouge wiped out nearly every modern advance in health care, civic life and literacy, leaving the country hamstrung by this tragic period ever since. Today, about one third of Cambodian children are enrolled in secondary school - and attendance rates are much lower.

The Artist

Grammy Award-winner Alicia Keys narrates Sokha’s story. Says Keys, “It’s an honor to be a part of Girl Rising. It’s a powerful film that has potential to inspire change in the world. If you’re not moved, you’re not breathing.”


Sokha graduated from high school in Cambodia in August 2016 and started college in the United States in September 2016. Sokha is studying hospitality management in Chicago, with support from Girl Rising and her longtime sponsors Holly and Terry Light. She now lives in an apartment near the college with a roommate. Sokha is a regular at Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks games. It just so happens that Bill Smith, the founder of A New Day Cambodia (ANDC), is the photographer for the Chicago Bulls, Blackhawks, and Bears. ANDC rescued Sokha from the garbage dump in Phnom Penh and has supported her education for many years.

“I love my college so much,” Sokha told us. “I will always try my best to fulfill my dream and set a perfect role for every girl.