Why stick with that NGO when global markets beckon?:
In the northwest corner of Phnom Penh’s Boeng Keng Kang market, a new stall is creating a buzz among shoppers.
Its occupant is a 28-year-old former U.S. Peace Corps volunteer who offers tarot-card readings in Khmer. And customers say her predictions are on point.
With strings of fake leaves hanging from the ceiling, colorful paper butterflies affixed to one wall, and a sign that reads “Mantis Magic,” the booth—which has been open for two weeks—stands out from the neighboring hairdressers and food stalls.
“I didn’t have a job, I needed something to do and I wanted to help people through my spiritual work. I was getting messages to do this, so I just followed my gut,” said Eileen, who speaks conversational Khmer and asked to be identified only by her first name so that her mother in the U.S. would not find out about her new trade.
Originally from New York, Eileen said she graduated from West Virginia University with degrees in gender studies and criminal investigations before relocating to Cambodia nearly five years ago with the Peace Corps.
After spending two years writing grant proposals for a local NGO while pursuing a master’s degree in development at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, she grew restless and earlier this year decided to pursue a passion for mysticism she had cultivated since the age of 10.
A Cambodian friend helped her lease the market stall two weeks ago, Eileen said. She said she had met with unexpected financial success, earning about $450 since opening while charging 10,000 riel (about $2.50) per session.