Nov 12, 2015

Soklone, Mother of Twins

Sometimes at Mother’s Heart we get to see our clients long after they are off the books. Soklone called in recently, bearing a basket of fruit for the staff and baby powder as a donation for other clients. What a different woman she has become, confidently in control of her life, assured as a mother and caregiver of her own mum and younger brother.

 

More than four years ago, Soklone became pregnant after going to a party with some friends. She’s not sure what happened, either drunk or drugged, but after the party she was pregnant. Her mother was very angry with Soklone. The two of them tried to press charges against the boy who hosted the party, suspecting rape, but dropped the charges when they received threats from the boy’s family. At the same time Soklones’ older brother died. Her mum blamed his death on Soklone, scolding her for being single and pregnant, and bringing bad luck to their family.

 

The two of them were referred to Mother’s Heart from another organization. Staff helped them find a room close to Mother’s Heart office and helped with food, rent, and medical costs. Soklone delivered two healthy twin girls.

 

When Soklone began cooking and cleaning training, she was very needy and demanding. She would say, “You have to help me. Can’t you see how hard my life is?!” Stressed at being a single mom, scolded by her family, haunted by suicidal thoughts, she took all her anger, hurt, and frustration out on Mother’s Heart staff – the only people who would listen.

 

Her social worker patiently listened to all her concerns and problems and kept encouraging her. She taught her how to be a good mum. It took a long time for Soklone to understand that she needed to start taking responsibility for the care of her babies and could not rely on Mother’s Heart for everything.

 

When Soklone visited, she apologized for her behavior while in our program. She certainly can see now how much Mother’s Heart has helped her. “If it wasn’t for Mother’s Heart I wouldn’t be able to stand today”. Soklone went from solely relying on Mother’s Heart, to taking on the full responsibility of caring for her twins, mother, and younger brother.

 

Her family is still hard to live with. Despite her support they still call her bad. ‘One day’, they told her, ‘she would end up in hell’. Her tart response was that living with her family was already hell. This is when she calls her social worker for help. She asked, “Am I really a bad person.” Her social worker responded, “Look at how far you have come. You are stronger and are such a good mom. You’re working a good job, your babies are doing so well, and you provide for your entire family. ”

 

Soklone has been referred to an organization that offers free counseling should she need more support. She also knows she is welcome to visit Mother’s Heart anytime.

Aug 27, 2015

Tenuous Connection Saves

Suicide - when there is no hope and you are convinced those around you would be better off if you were dead. Srey Kuaj had reached this place. She was five months pregnant and her brother, who had raised her since their parents died of AIDS, was furious. She had tried to hang herself twice but her brother had intervened in time.

 

Srey Kuaj would have aborted if she could, but at five months it is illegal. Her brother wanted her to give the baby to another family once she delivered. Srey Kuaj was a minor, not very mature and there was no one to help her raise her child. She knew that her brother was right, but she wanted to keep her baby. 

 

Full of shame for herself, the loss of face for her family, and knowing she couldn’t even keep the baby, Srey Kuaj could only think of death.

 

It is extraordinary how the most tenuous connections can avert a crisis. A moto taxi driver on the street heard outreach workers from another NGO speak of the suicidal girl. He referred her to Mother’s Heart.

 

Mother’s Heart arranged for Srey Kuaj to stay in a shelter for minors, receiving counseling, and under observation in case she tried to commit suicide again.

 

When she delivered, Srey Kuaj herself fell in love with her baby and her brother soon felt the same way. They simply could not picture giving the baby away.

 

Mother’s Heart helped with medical costs, counseling, housing, and food. Rather than find work Srey Kuaj wanted to return to the province to live with her older brother where she was reintegrated into her community. Mother’s Heart continued food and counseling support for her there.

 

It was on the second to last visit by Mother’s Heart staff that Srey Kuaj revealed the baby’s father was back. He had been working in Thailand. Although from the same town as Srey Kuaj, she hadn’t wanted this known in case her brother made trouble for this man and his family.

 

Srey Kuaj and her partner began to repair relationships – with each other and with his family, asking their forgiveness. The family invited Srey Kuaj to live with them so they could help look after their grandchild. They were so pleased to see how healthy and big the baby was and, like Srey Kuaj’s brother, were full of thanks to Mother’s Heart.

 

Now, Srey Kuaj is rebuilding her life. Her partner works hard, wanting what is best for Srey Kuaj and their child. There is a wedding on the way. Srey Kuaj will be marrying her partner and Mother’s Heart staff are invited!

 

To Mother’s Heart Srey Kuaj says, “I would have killed myself if I had not had your support and encouragement. I thank you. I thank you so much”. 

Jun 2, 2015

You'll Only Bring Us Misfortune

“This girl, see she’s a bad girl”. Even the people who love us can sometimes say destructive things. Chantee’s mother was trying to convince the other people in the hospital of Chantee’s character even as she’d taken time to attend the delivery and care for her daughter during her recovery in hospital. Never mind that the poor girl had just undergone a C-section to deliver her transverse baby.

 Life for Chantee had been daily insults since her mother found out she was pregnant. Her mother loved her but couldn’t over look Chantee’s misconduct. Chantee had become pregnant after a one-night stand with a young man she had met while working in a roadside shop. He had little idea of his responsibility. According to Cambodian culture, if one family member does something bad, they will bring more misfortune on the rest of the family. Because of this, Chantee’s mom blamed her for anything bad that happened in the family. She was furious. Being pregnant outside of marriage would bring misfortune on her and the rest of the family. Her relentless harsh words drove Chantee to move in with her aunt until the birth of her baby was imminent.

Mother’s Heart helped with her delivery, post-natal care, vaccinations and later formula while Chantee worked. A partner organization trained her to be a cleaner and she worked at that job for about a year while her baby was at Mother’s Heart daycare.

Mother’s Heart also helped Chantee mend her relationship with her mum, encouraging forgiveness. And Chantee worked hard to repair things with her mother. Their relationship improved enough that Chantee moved back home where her mum cared for her baby while Chantee worked in a well paid sales job.

The relationship with her mom was not the only restored relationship. Chantee has married her baby’s dad. After delivery he began to help Chantee out with some bills, showing an interest in the baby and making a life together. It took Chantee a long time to trust he was serious because he hadn’t proven so in the past. Her baby was over two years old when she decided ‘yes’ to marry him. Mother’s Heart was invited to join in their celebration and witness their mended relationship.

Chantee’s mother hasn’t completely forgiven her for getting pregnant, but Chantee chooses to show her love and to be a dutiful Cambodian daughter by helping her mom financially. Chantee continues to have a good relationship with her husband, secure well-paid work and their daughter is in preschool.

 
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