360° of life: Sao

The first thing you may notice about Sao Sochen is that he's a monk, but you soon realise there's much more to him.

At 22 years old Sao is studying for two degrees, International Relations and English Literature, at Pannasastra University in his hometown of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

He belongs to SDG 4, Quality Education and much like his idol, Martin Luther King, Sao hopes to be an ambassador and implement free education in Cambodia through Merit360 and his own organization, the Social Monk Assembly.

The Social Monk Assembly consists of three main sectors. The first focuses on donating charitable donations to the elderly, the second centers around the environment, and the third follows what Sao is most passionate about, education.

He told Merit360: "I believe education is the route to end poverty. It is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world."

Sao is thankful to Soriyany Sam, an American Khmer refugee from Oregon who encouraged him to pursue higher education.

Like her he hopes to direct people to education through support, motivation and hope. There's a tranquility and certainty to Sao that makes you believe in his goals no matter how ambitious they seem.

When he tells you he wants to expand his network at Merit360 and open his own school in the future to provide free education, you know somehow he'll get there.

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Text: Rochelle Beighton