Sophea’s mother wants him to work in an office, but he has other plans — he wants to be a policeman and catch bad guys
A Leg To Stand On (ALTSO) is a non-profit organization providing free orthopaedic care to children in the developing world. With this portrait series called CoolKids, Director of Programs for ALTSO, A J Warco reveals some stars he met in Cambodia and Indonesia
Landmines, cluster bombs, complications with home births, and road accidents are just some of the issues that have left these children seeking help. The team who they have turned to is A Leg To Stand On (ALTSO). This dedicated non-profit team based in New York, works in nine countries and helps distribute prosthetics and mobility solutions through hospitals and NGOs. A J Warco, the Director of Programs for ALTSO was wowed by the resolve of the children he met on his travels. Through his portrait series CoolKids he wanted to show just some of the kids are taking the obstacles of daily life in their stride.
At 4ft 1in tall, this cutie packs a giant personality into a tiny package. She’s a girl’s girl who loves the colour pink. She proudly boasts that she has over 30 friends, including a bestie with the same name. Her favourite thing in the world is singing the Frozen theme song, which she performs flawlessly. She’s a coolkid not because we say so, but because she says so.
Clever, cute and incredibly mischievous, this kindergartener will keep you on your toes. Refan is a boy’s boy, goofing around every chance he gets. He loves to climb, play the bongos and ride his bike around the neighborhood. Watching him coast on his training-wheeled mini bike, you would think he’s cruising down Route 66. His dream is to become a pilot, but first he has his sights set on learning how to swim. He’s a coolkid not because we say so, but because he says so
Nicknamed Yaya, Sopriya is the epitome of adorable. She’s a big fan of Hello Kitty, mathematics and giving peace signs. When she’s not concentrating on fractions and decimals, you will find her riding bikes with her kid sister. The special thing about Sopriya is that her dream is to become a prosthetist and help other children like ALTSO has helped her. She’s a coolkid not because we say so, but because she says so.
Athletic, infectiously happy and extremely popular, Sophea is a natural born leader. His mother wants him to one day work in an office, but he has other plans — he wants to be a policeman and catch bad guys. Judging by the shape of his new prosthetic leg (he’s already worn off the toes!) there’s nothing stopping this little guy from making his dreams come true. He’s a coolkid not because we say so, but because he says so.
Tiny and incredibly sweet, Soney will win you over with her little voice and her big heart. She told us that she wants to become a teacher someday, but not a princess. When asked what her favourite colour is, she replied, “blue, red, white and umm….purple.” She’s a coolkid not because we say so, but because she says so.
VICHEA AND CHAY
Planes, trains and automobiles! If it’s fast, these boys want to be in the driver’s seat. Vichea and his kid brother, Chay, are best friends and somewhat of a dynamic duo. They do everything together, including arguing over who will become the better commercial pilot. Though when push comes to shove, these boys have each other’s backs. They are coolkids not because we say so, but because they say so.
Talented, intelligent and independent are just a few words that describe Asih. Over the past five years, we’ve watched her grow into a mature young woman, ready to take on the world. Asih aspires to become a university lecturer, but has not yet decided on a subject to specialise in. She’s a coolkid not because we say so, but because she says so.
Tech-savvy and athletic, Samnang’s dream is to study information technology in Phnom Penh, but relocate following university to either the USA or Russia. When Samnang’s not concentrating on his future, you will find him repairing electronics and playing soccer. He’s a coolkid not because we say so, but because he says so.
Spunky, kind and extremely intelligent, Divi is your typical junior high girl. She loves chatting with her besties and seems to always have a pencil ready for her crush, who just so happens to sit next to her. Divi aspires to become a nurse or a secretary when she gets older, but for now she’s happy with watching cartoons and being a kid. She’s a coolkid not because we say so, but because she says so.
Man of the house when his father’s not home, Ardan is tough, mild-mannered and a boy of few words. He loves his two younger sisters but his favourite person in the world is his grandpap. Ardan’s dream is to become a professional swimmer and compete in the Olympics one day. He’s a coolkid not because we say so, but because he says so.
The baby of the family, Putheara is quiet, cute, and has a ton of charisma, not to mention a million dollar smile. She dreams of becoming a nurse when she grows up, but in the meantime, is satisfied with playing with her Easy-Bake Oven and her version of jacks — using lemons and sticks. She’s a coolkid not because we say so, but because she says so.
Fajri is a little tike that has an amazing laugh, smile and family. He loves going to school, colouring with his friends and Thomas The Train. A mere whisper of Thomas & Friends will have him happy as can be. He’s a coolkid not because we say so, but because he says so.
Kimlay dreams of becoming a designer, and creating her own line of dresses and accessories to support herself financially. From purses to sandals to plants made of paper mache, she just about does it all. She would love to attend design school and remain in Cambodia so she can stay close to her family and nature. She’s a coolkid not because we say so, but because she says so.
Although Bayu cannot speak, his smile and eyes tell you that he is loved and adored by all. His mother tells us he loves listening to music and watching others laugh. His kid brother Bagas wants to become a policeman when he grows up to protect Bayu from bad guys. They are coolkids not because we say so, but because they say so.
The baby of the family, Soata is no stranger to hard work and hand-me-downs. In the future, she aspires to become a physician, planning to give back to her community in a big way. Soata loves reading literature and spending time with her two best friends — her sisters. She’s a coolkid not because we say so, but because she says so.
The oldest of four, Sopheak is a natural at keeping his brothers out of trouble. His dream is to become a police officer, but his mother would rather see him playing it safe behind a desk. Between his love for soccer and other sports, Sopheak loves being on his feet. He’s a coolkid not because we say so, but because he says so.
With dreams of becoming a doctor to support her parents, Puspa set her heart on working in a hospital overseas. When she’s not daydreaming about the future, you can find Puspa hanging with her besties, singing and helping her mum prepare a family favourite — noodles with eggs. She’s a coolkid not because we say so, but because she says so.
Kindhearted, mature and intelligent, Oksi is the type of young man that would give you the shirt off his back. He loves motorcycles, Chelsea football and looking forward to supporting himself in the near future. His father works construction, raises catfish and sells coconuts. His mother farms rice, weaves baskets and makes the best vegetable soup south of the equator. Needless to say, they’re one awesome family. He’s a coolkid not because we say so, but because he says so.
Somanith dreams of becoming a hairdresser or cosmetician, and loves making her sister’s hair look pretty before school. Besides her love for keeping her family looking beautiful, she loves riding her bicycle and getting dirty — at least a once in a while. She’s a coolkid not because we say so, but because she says so.
It’s FC Barcelona and BMX for this Messi fan. When asked what he wanted to be when he grows up, Dwi quickly smirked, remained silent and continued to dribble his soccer ball. Not only can he do some serious tricks on his BMX, he can also build a bike from scratch. Not too shabby for a boy that hasn’t even reached high school. He’s a coolkid not because we say so, but because he says so.