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Oct 6, 2017

From Mother's Heart, with love.

Dara is a little boy who just left our care to be placed in a permanent foster family.

Phnom Penh
August 2017

Dear Dara*,

We write this story to let you know how you came to this world. You were born during the dry season in 2017 close to Phnom Penh.

Your mother’s name is Touch*. She came to us early in her pregnancy. She was 18 when she got pregnant with you.

She has a cognitive delay and her understanding of the world is very limited. Just like you, when you were 5 or 6 years old. She smiles a lot and is very gentle. She is thin, always wearing a beanie.

When she was small, she went to a school where she was well taken care of, with other children with disabilities. But once she turned 18, her mother, your grandmother, couldn’t find another establishment for her to go to. It wasn’t easy back then to find placements for adults with disabilities.

Your grandmother had to work full-time to make sure everyone was provided for. She had to leave your mother alone while she was at the factory.

A construction worker took advantage of your mother’s kindness and innocence. He regretted his actions and was convicted for his crime.

You stayed with Touch and your grandma for three days after you were born. After that, a lady named Bora (Mother’s Heart midwife) came to take you to us. She checked your weight and your height. She made sure you were healthy.

Touch came to see you often during the 4 months you were placed in our emergency foster care family. We were told that she often looked for you, but she could barely look after herself, and she knew you had to find a loving family.

You were growing up so fast. You drank an extra can of formula compared to the other children. Your cheeks were full and when you came to visit, your laugh and your smile filled our office with joy. You were a beautiful little boy.

You have to know that your mother loved you very much and she made sure you were going to a good family. She trusted us after the 4 months passed. We contacted CIF (Children In Families) and they found a forever family for you.

Everything about your family, your history, your birth is in our files.

Know that you were loved.

We wish you a bright and beautiful future.

Mother’s Heart

*All names have been modified to respect our users’ anonymity

Jul 13, 2017

Your support matters. You can change lives.

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On March 8, for International Women's Day, we asked you to support our cause.

Some of you have recently discovered the work we do, others have been faithful supporters for a long time.

 

So many of you answered our call and you made it possible for us to support a woman throughout her pregnancy and until her child turns 18 months. You made it possible for that child to have a great start to life with a team of dedicated professionals providing the best care available. We receive your letters of encouragement; know that we value your contributions.

 

Your donation made it possible for us to support a woman like Sreydy.

 

Sreydy is a very young woman who was referred to us by a partner NGO. She still bears the looks of someone who is barely out of childhood. Her cheeks are still full, her eyes the colours of ebony. Her hair rests on her shoulders.

 

Her shoulders seem to engulf her neck as if they could hide her entire body. Sreydy is shy and she carries her story with her.

 

Sreydy was 4 months pregnant when she was referred to Mother’s Heart. Many of the women who are referred to us at a young age have been victims of predators. 

 

Sreydy was no exception.

 

She was no longer safe in her community. She felt threatened. She needed to leave. For the first time in her life, she had to leave her community, for something she was not guilty of. Leave behind her friends, her mother. She was heartbroken, isolated, lonely, and sad. She begged us to take her away from home. She was feeling unsafe, scared. The trauma was still fresh, like an open wound.

In the West, we would call that PTSD, here, there is no name for it. It is only seen as shame and weakness.

 

Our staff made the long journey to her community and escorted her to Phnom Penh.

 

They took her to a safe place, where she would not be alone. They surrounded her with care. They listened.

 

In a matter of weeks, she grew accustomed to her new life and the homesickness slowly went away. A smile grew back on her face. Even her stiff shoulders seemed to relax.

 

At first, she didn't feel she could keep her baby. She was young and had no experience with children. But as she spent more time with other young mothers, her new friends taught her how to care for a crying baby, change nappies, and wash them.

 

She grew in confidence. She could feel the baby kicking and growing. While holding other women’s children, she started imagining herself becoming a mother. Her mind changed. She was longing to feel the warmth of her baby in her arms. To be able to smell baby shampoo and talcum powder on the baby’s skin.

 

She carried her pregnancy to term. And she gave birth to a beautiful baby. She held him close. She loved him from the moment he was put in her arms.

 

He is now 2 months old and growing in size. His cheeks are like little hills that surround his face. His smile is heart-warming.

 

She is a proud mother and takes wonderful care of her baby.

 

Your donation made it possible for our team to go to her community. Our social workers talked to her mother. They did family mediation, and the community accepted her back. They understood the trauma she had been through.

 

In a few months, she will return home to her community.

 

None of this would be possible without you. Not only are you giving us the means to support Sreydy, you also give us constant moral support. Your messages, your love is being spread. You are the stars that radiate, and spread warmth.

 

Thanks to you, Cambodia is being made a better place for young women. You allow them to go through their crisis pregnancy. You empower them in becoming mothers. Their children are loved and not shunned. You make it possible for them to have vocational training, job placements and be financially independent.

 

Please, continue to support us. You make a difference.

 

By clicking on the donation button and donating, you will be changing the lives of numerous women. And for that, our staff will be forever grateful.

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Apr 20, 2017

You can improve maternal health in Cambodia

Support single women during their crisis pregnancy
Support single women during their crisis pregnancy

Dear Supporter,

April is World Health Month.

Cambodia has the highest infant and under-five mortality rates in the Indochina region, at 97 and 141 per 1,000 live births, respectively. Vaccine-preventable diseases, diarrhoea, and respiratory infections are among the leading causes of childhood death. 

The Kingdom also has one of the highest maternal mortality rates, despite UN goals set up for the end of 2015, numbers have remained high. 

A maternal death is any death that occurs during pregnancy, childbirth, or within two months after giving birth or terminating a pregnancy. Maternity-related complications are one of the leading causes of death for Cambodian women ages 15 to 49.
The vast majority of these deaths could have been prevented through good quality care during pregnancy, delivery, and the postpartum period.

“Even when mothers can access healthcare, the overall quality of care is deficient, magnifying the challenges women face in overcoming potential health problems during and after birth,” UNICEF said in a recent report.

We think that these statistics are not a fatality and we provide our service users with the best care available.
Samey's Story
Samey came to us late in her pregnancy. She is a young woman, with beautiful dark eyes, that reflected a life that was not always kind to her. Her baby bump was barely showing, but she was already in her last trimester when we met her. She had the usual aches and pains but the check-up and ultrasound showed nothing uncommon. 
When she started going into labour, her sister took her to the hospital and stayed with her. Mother's Heart social worker, Somphors, and our midwife, Sreytouch, checked on her regularly. They made sure both nurses and doctors looked after her well. Hospitals are overcrowded and sometimes, their staff can be overwhelmed and forget to check on their patient. 
Her delivery was long and she struggled through it. Our staff kept regular contact with her sister as she was getting weaker, losing the strength to keep pushing. Her eyes looked tired, the sweat on her forehead was making her hair wet. Her pillow was damp. Her eyes were starting to look hazy. Monitors showed that both mother and baby were in distress. 
The doctors decided to perform an emergency C-section. Samey lost a lot of blood and needed multiple blood transfusions. After surgery, she lost consciousness. We didn't know if her baby was going to meet his mother.
Will he know the warmth of his mum's arms? Will he grow up in his own family? What would happen to that newborn child?

She finally regained consciousness after three painfully long days. Then, she was in and out of hospital still not recovering. After multiple blood tests, doctors discovered that she contracted a rare heart condition that could only be diagnosed during or after delivery. She spent the next few weeks recovering. 
Mother's Heart helped with all her medical expenses and assisted her with food during her hospital stay, hospitals don't cater for their patients in Cambodia. She will probably never fully recover her strength, her heart functioning at 30%, but she knows that our doors remain open should she need advice, support and love. 
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