When we hired Vathanak (22) to be our assistent / translator, the first thing he told us was that he lived with his grandmother (66), while he is studying here. His parents and older brother live in the province, and work as government employees there.We assumed then that he lived with her to take care for her, and that she had a house here in Phnom Penh. That was far from reality, as turned out when we asked more about Vathanaks family.
Vathanak told us: “We live all together in our house in the province. When me and my brother went to study in Phnom Penh, my mother thought me too young to live here all by myself. Thats why she asked my grandmother to move here with me, to keep me company and take care for me. Every day she cooks for me and takes care of our apartment here. She did the same for my brother, and when we finish studies, she will move back with us to the province.”
Another example of reciprocity that we as biased europeans did not expect.