Help Khmer Social Workers Care for Foster Children

by M'lup Russey Organization
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Help Khmer Social Workers Care for Foster Children
Help Khmer Social Workers Care for Foster Children
Help Khmer Social Workers Care for Foster Children
Help Khmer Social Workers Care for Foster Children
Help Khmer Social Workers Care for Foster Children
Help Khmer Social Workers Care for Foster Children
Help Khmer Social Workers Care for Foster Children
Help Khmer Social Workers Care for Foster Children
Help Khmer Social Workers Care for Foster Children
Help Khmer Social Workers Care for Foster Children
Help Khmer Social Workers Care for Foster Children
Help Khmer Social Workers Care for Foster Children
Help Khmer Social Workers Care for Foster Children
Work with authority in reunification process
Work with authority in reunification process

By 2021, MRO had completed its phase 3 project cycle and was facing significant funding issues. We are fortunate that MRO still has two funders committed to supporting us in phase 4, which runs from 2022 to 2024. However, because of drop-in some support, MRO chose to restructure and develop a new strategy to safeguard and serve Cambodia's OVC. Two significant developments occurred during the reorganization process. Those were changes to the organization's structure and personnel.

As a result of the restructuring, 19 staffs have been hired, with six of them serving on the Management Committee, which oversees and directs this local organization. We decided to have two offices, one in Phnom Penh City and the other in Battambang Province, because of the financial value. We anticipate that this will lower transportation expenses and improve the effectiveness and speed of our case intervention service.

Despite some significant changes inside Mlup Russey, our services and strengths continue to be active for the best interests of Cambodia's orphans and vulnerable children. Furthermore, we are expanding our services to new target locations where OVC there have not been adequately supported and safeguarded. We began capacity development and staff orientations in the first quarter of this phase 4 to ensure that our staff is capable of implementing the MRO plan and can apply any government guidelines, standards, and best practices for the protection of children and in their best interests. In addition to the internal preparation and staff capacity development, our team have implemented and delivered MRO services for OVC and their families throughout the same time period.

Obviously, four OVC cases were reunited with their biological families in the first quarter. In the case of a youngster, after discussing with the appropriate authorities, we decided to refer him to a standard Residential Care Center for long-term care because the search for his family and relatives revealed that he has none left. 

In addition, the other three OVC have been intervened and supported by cooperation between MRO and the Authority. These three children have been deprived of their basic rights and are subjected to exploitation and domestic violence. Following the intervention, these three children were given food emergency packages and are able to return to school. Their families also received counseling and advice on how to raise their children in a positive manner and how to avoid using domestic violence. Local authority promise to take regularly observation and follow up to these families to ensure there won’t be any violent and children keep going to school.Local authorities there have been educated on how to work with children and their families as a result of this process and may be inspired to learn more about working to help OVC since they perceive many dangers that the children may face in their communities.

Children is back with her mother
Children is back with her mother
children reunited back into their family
children reunited back into their family
Reunited back with family
Reunited back with family
Intervened cases of domestic violent
Intervened cases of domestic violent
OVC family received supports after intervention
OVC family received supports after intervention
Assess OVC family to help them stop violent
Assess OVC family to help them stop violent

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Strengthening Authorities for accountable responding to 

the needs of Vulnerable Children

In some remote areas in Cambodia, many children still miss the opportunity for schooling and other development. One of the main reasons behind this is that they don't have a birth certificate to identify their identity. Without this essential official document, there would be a disaster for their whole life living without true identities, could not access any necessary available services according to their right, and were not protected. 

So that, helping Orphan and Vulnerable children to have a birth certificate is an essential support in our case management process for getting them away from the possible risks and having their best interest regarding their rights. 

Indeed, in Rom Lech village, 2 Crocodile commune, Pusat province, approximately 90 percent of children from 0 to 16 years of age remain without birth certificates. According to the child protection policy, they are already at high risk for their situation without birth certificates. That means they are already losing important services and protection. Our staff has been visiting the area intended to access the reason behind this and witnessed the information given by the local authority that most families are impoverished and located far from the commune center.  

After gathering information, we have been working with the Department of childwelfair by gathering relevant authorities in a meeting to identify any possible and practical intervention activities for helping those vulnerable children to get birth certificates. 

Many ways have been raised to sort the problem out, but it seems challenging to carry them out with the difficult road and the safety for the children. Finally, the authorities have decided to bring all the relevant materials such as computers, printers, and other stuff to the closest areas to the children's house. It was the surprising and tear of joy to see this going to happen, for it seemed impossible and rarely happened, seeing the commitment of commune officers willing to do such a thing. 

As a result, the plan worked very well, and 105 vulnerable children have received their birth certificates within two days from the strong will and commitment of the authorities. During the event, the vulnerable children who are at high risk are also identified and noted for intervention by local authorities. And More than this, the families who brought their kids for birth certificate also were educated from the local authorities about the important of having birth certificate for their children. 

 As a local NGO who are working for the life changes and better life of Orphan and Vulnerable children, we are so happy to see the changes of behavior and attitude of duty bearers who commit and put themselves in the effective accountability in their job for the protecting the children and their best interest. 


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Help Social working to Care for foster 

It is a tough time due to the situation in Cambodia that everyone felt pandemic and worried about Covid-19. At the same time, M’lup Russey’s Social Worker has contributed their time and commitment to take action and deliver the service to the children at risk and crisis in the communities.    During this three-month, M’lup Russey’s social workers strive and take high accountability even during these challenging situations by expecting the children we serve to continue receiving support to cope with their emergency needs and crisis. A motivation phrase, "as a social worker if we do not care, who cares for the lives of vulnerable children and people," always inspires us to work hard and remain flexible, keeping our services and strategy possible to those in need. However, MRO also prepared some support to protect our staff from the Covid-19 infection and their emotions and mental health. 

 

Within the reporting period, there were 42(17F) reintegrated children who received direct follow-up visits. 05(05F) cases among those got visited directly from the DoSVY and Local Authorities in Pailin and Pursat provinces due to travel restriction of M’lup Russey Social Workers. These follow-up visits showed that 14 children and 03 (child monks) were continuing school regularly before the schools closed. They were happy to go to school with the support and motivation from their family. Most of the families are in difficulty and facing financial crisis during this time. For the children, their schools were closed, only a few of them can learn online, but most of them are unable to do so due to no online alternatives in public schools and/or with no assistance/encouragement from their families. 

Moreover, 15 (12F) foster children were visited in Emergency Foster Care every month, and one among those has been had regular phone follow up from our Social worker, too. Throughout this activity, the Social Workers and children have strengthened relationships. And the children can share their life experiences, speak out about challenges in Emergency Foster Care and find solutions together to help the children with behavior change. These visits also provide space for Social Workers to hear their thoughts for the future, which can help Social Workers to develop plans following the case management process

Our social worker worked with 05(04F) cases that were closed in Phnom Penh, Pursat, and Tbong Khmom province. All these children are fully supported in their physical and emotional needs by regular follow up from our social worker and their family. The children are motivated to go to school regularly to understand the value and importance of education as their parents are always encouraging them. 

135 Orphan Vulnerable Children’s families in Battambang, Pusat, and Siem Reap Province have received emergency support packages during the crisis of the Covid-19 epidemic through resource-gathering activities that Key Community People and their partner worked together. Even though the packages were MRO’s contribution, KCP and their partner have initiated and efforted for distribution. This result has produced a great motivation and impact to KCP, Local authorities, and the Community seeing the potentials and importance of community people in social and child protection. 

Child Welfare Network Sector’s from M’lup Russey implementation activities have continued responding to the needs of vulnerable children by providing essential services, such as cooperation with relevant Authorities in rescuing 10 girls sexual abuse victims, intervention for raped children, and finding safer places for the children who were afraid of living in their home. CWN sector has cooperated with NGO partners and relevant Local Authorities for placing children in temporary safe places. Moreover, we have sought legal support from other NGOs to help the children with the legal procedures and ensure justice and safety. 

We have continued to work very hard to support and respond to 131 OVC emergency interventions and find solutions to help each child and family according to the actual needs and necessities for the benefit of the child, including food, sanitation, and supporting the process for legal documents (birth certificates, identity cards). We also did case conferences to find support for the children to receive appropriate shelter through meetings, case conferences, NGO partners, and relevant Local Authorities. We did process linking service by providing regular food to the children every month. Within this period, 42 children who didn’t have a birth certificate received support for M’lup Russey social workers. They got birth certificates, registered for school, and used legal as Cambodia citizenship. 

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Thank you so much for your support of M’lup Russey Organization’s (MRO) dream of owning a new car. So far we have raised $6,815 towards our goal of $50,000. We continue to press on in raising funds for the much-needed mode of transportation. Since our last update, we’ve added a donate button to our website: https://mluprussey.org/. This link is on both the English and Khmer versions of our website.

 

Since February 20, 2021, Cambodia has been greatly impacted by a COVID-19 community spread event, resulting in 16,416 people being infected throughout the country and the first 110 deaths. There have been national lockdowns throughout the nation with strict curfews and limited movement.

 

MRO is working hard to make sure both staff and those under our care are being educated, cared for, and supported during this pandemic.  We’ve tried to do this as much as possible via online support and phone calls.  However, some of our work still requires face-to-face work - including rescuing children from abuse, physical checks ups, reintegration processes, and delivering emergency care packages to those in need. Please click the link provided to get our first quarterly newsletter in 2021: https://mluprussey.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/MRO-Qauterly-Newsletter.pdf

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GlobalGiving Report | Jan. 2021


There is a term for motorcycles and cars that are barely functional here in Cambodia.  We call them “Frankensteins”.  They are held together with shottie welding, duck tape, and prayers.  I remember one time, I took my friend’s motorcycle to get it’s air filter replaced only to find out my friend’s motorcycle didn’t even have an air filter.  The space where an air filter would be instead had a surgical face mask zip-tied in place.  Stuff like this is common in Cambodia and rental cars are no different.



Recently, the MRO team was assisting families affected by the terrible flooding in northern Cambodia’s Battambang province.  Since all three MRO cars were already in use, a Social Worker and myself took a rental car for the eight-hour journey on bumpy Cambodian roads and through flooded streets.  (The Government actually shut down the stretch of highway we traveled on the following day due to the overwhelming flooding).


Being in a rental car for eight hours gave me a lot of time to reflect on how risky domestic travel can be in Cambodia.  This minivan was a perfect example of a Cambodian Frankenstein.  The front passenger seat had been removed and replaced with another rear passenger two-seater.  Allowing the driver to add an additional passenger.  My own seat had also been replaced at some point, but the original seat belt was still in place.  This meant instead of being a true safety device, this seat belt was a death trap - the sash part cut across my collar bone, nearly choking me, and instead of across my waist, the lap belt went across the side of my kidneys.  Since it was made for a different seat and sat further back than my seat (which was soldered in place) the safety release wasn’t operating properly.  I was essentially trapped in my death trap and ended up doing what most Khmer people do remove my seat belt for the majority of our eight-hour ride through flooded streets.



Traffic accidents are a major issue in Cambodia, in a 2010 World Health Organization report states that every day three people in Cambodia die from road accidents and an additional 100 people are injured.  As more cars and trucks have been imported into this country over the past decade these numbers continue to rise.  The annual cost of traffic accidents is $116 million USD, more than 3% of the nation’s GDP.  Traffic accidents account for more than 50% of hospital admissions.  Traffic accidents kill more people than malaria, dengue, or small explosives (UXO land mines).  The two major causes of traffic accidents are speeding and driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.  The saying here is “It’s not if you get in an accident, but when.”


It’s hard for one to truly articulate how bumpy Cambodia roads can be.  Imagine using a country gravel road as a two-way highway, add some massive potholes, the size that could easily be the size of a small car, add cars, motorcycles, and bikes, joining traffic the right way (or wrong way) with no warning, and fasters cars and trucks overtaking one another.  That is a pretty good idea of the chaos that is Cambodian travel.  With 50% of the roads hard-surfaced, all-weather, and in good conduction.  Most roads are crushed stone, secondary roads are just unimproved dirt, and little more than motorcycle or cow tracks.  If you are in a rental car of unknown maintenance, it can be a very uncomfortable ride and depending on the shocks and the tread of the tires an unsafe one during flooding.



On top of the physical safety aspect of local travel.  Due to COVID-19, MRO needs to also be aware of exposure and spreading of the disease.  Taking a rental car or riding a bus increases the risk of exposure.  With Cambodia’s borders being closed to tourists (accounting for roughly 28% of national GPD) and factories being closed or working at a limited capacity (about 31% of GDP), many people are eager for work and the opportunity to provide an income for themselves and their families.  Renting a car and driver opens MRO up to more chances of exposure to the COVID-19 virus.  As we don’t know the health of the driver, nor who they have transported within in the last two weeks.  At MRO, we keep logs of everyone who uses our cars for contact tracing.  Who was in the car, where did they travel to, etc.  On top of that, the need to provide financially for families during pandemic times will force those who are sick to continue to work when they should be at home resting.  Our driver to Battambang was sniffling and coughing for the entire eight-hour drive.  I ended up putting on my personal masks for the entire ride as the only way to protect myself from the driver’s illness while trapped in a small box for eight-hours.  Thankfully, neither myself nor the MRO Social Worker became ill, but the “what ifs” weighed heavy on my heart.


What if we had gotten ill?

What if we had had an at-risk child with us?

What if we had exposed at-risk communities to this illness?


Another thing to consider is the overall sanitation of the rental cars.  When you own a work car, you can take it to be fumigated with a surface disinfectant that kills the COVID-19 virus, or we can manually clean the cars and wipe down all the touched surfaces of the car.  In a rental, none of these options are available to us.  Mystery stains are a part of life in Cambodia but can be increasingly alarming during a pandemic outbreak.


Furthermore, we need to consider the financial costs of taking rental cars.  This trip cost us $70 (one way).  If MRO completes 178 annual missions at the cost of this trip, our rental costs are $24,920.  At this rate, MRO could have saved for a new $50,000 car in just two years.  About half the cost of the new car we are trying to buy.  (It should be noted that not all missions cost this much, some can be completed within a day and thus would only cost $70).  In the last two and a half years, MRO has spent over $30,000 in rental car costs.


To date, MRO has raised $6,515 via GlobalGiving towards our new car fund.  We still have $43,485 left to go but are confident we can continue to raise support with the help of passionate individuals in Cambodia and around the world.


Here is just how one trip to a province in Cambodia to provide care for 64 at-risk families highlight’s MRO’s massive need for a brand new car.  I hope these observations, help you to reflect on the possibility of supporting MRO in its goal of purchasing a new car for the safety of orphans and vulnerable children, but also for the safety of our staff and their families as well.  If you are interested in joining us in making this goal a reality soon, please consider donating.


-- 
Jenna Forstrom
Cambodia: 061609200
USA: 503.341.3496
@bite4size
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Organization Information

M'lup Russey Organization

Location: Phnom Penh, Khan Meanchey - Cambodia
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Chetra Im
Phnom Penh, Khan Meanchey Cambodia
$8,834 raised of $50,000 goal
 
120 donations
$41,166 to go
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