Many of you were interested to learn more about why and how Phymean was nominated. The following is a letter from Nabiha Henein on what compelled her to nominate Phymean.
“Phymean is definitely my hero. As an Adult ESL Instructor working for Toronto District School Board for the last 17 years, I usually come across many interesting people from different cultures with great stories to tell and I just listen.
I met Phymean in 2007 and she impressed me the most because of the extraordinary challenge she had to face at an early age. Her courage and persistence are amazing. Despite the hardship she went through as a child growing up in Cambodia during and after the war, and despite the loss of her only companion, her mother, to cancer at the age of 15, she kept going. She tried so hard to finish her school, look after her niece and then get a job. But then her amazing compassion on those children who live on garbage dumps and her determination to save them from the heaps of garbage and provide them with education, housing and health care has made her an instant hero to me.
I was really struck by her vision and by her powerful spirit that is gentle yet strong enough not to let circumstances rule out her destiny. I had to step in and give a hand and the rest is history.
I thank CNN for such a brilliant campaign that opens a window to the world to show everybody what ordinary people are capable of doing. It has been an exciting and very rewarding journey for me too. May God bless you all and bless your work, and thoughts abundently for the well-being of humanity.”
Toronto, Ontario, Canada