Supporting Women through Crisis Pregnancy

by Mother's Heart Vetted since 2013 Top Ranked Effective Nonprofit Site Visit Verified

Thanks to your support, we are able to help more women than ever before. Our offices in Phnom Penh and Battambang have been busy looking after 83 women, and 31 babies. 

One the main features of our program is providing baby baskets to women who wouldn't be able to purchase items essential to their health and their baby's well-being. Our baby baskets are just one aspect of our program, as we also visit regularly to ensure our beneficiaries physical and mental health.

Donating to Mother's Heart will make a significant difference to the life a single mother, by ensuring her health, and provided the best start in life to a child, who would have been born in extreme poverty, and possibly been taken away from a loving mother. You can gift them with the chance to bond, create a nest of tenderness, and keep them healthy and strong.

Sophy* and her child Neary* are benefitting from our Pregnancy Support Program.

Sophy arrived in our offices one morning. Her eyes were sad and her chin lowered to her chest. She wouldn't look any of us in the eyes. 

She realised she was pregnant a month before our meeting. In Cambodia, reproduction is a great taboo. And she always thought that she would only get pregnant when married. No one had ever told her, and the shock of her pregnancy left her depressed, full of shame, and deeply isolated. 

She told one of her friend, who saw how withdrawn she was, and they both reached to us. 

Sophy's pregnancy went well, but when her family found out, they cut all ties with her. We started family mediation, but it takes time, and we needed to find a safe place for Sophy.

We took her in our Mothers' Home where she met other moms, some pregnant, some with children. They helped each other, and watching her housemates interact with children, took her fear of motherhood away. Our midwife made regular visits making sure the pregnancy was going well, and getting Sophy prepared for delivery. Neary was born two months ago. She is lovely baby girl, with beautiful dark eyes and a lovely smile. Her skin is fair, which makes her mother very proud!

After delivery, we provided Sophy with a baby basket that included every item a mother and her newborn need for the first 6 weeks. Inside her basket, Sophy found hygiene essentials for herself and her baby, a mosquito net (as mosquitoes can carry deadly diseases in Cambodia), etc. We also provide regular visits from our midwife, parenting classes, and the support every mother needs after pregnancy.

 Keeping Sophy in good health was paramount to having her beautiful baby boy in top health. We are also training our staff to see signs of postpartum depression. Women in our Pregnancy Support Program are particularly vulnerable to depression. Being single, they face the hardship of parenthood alone, and society rejects them. Monitoring their progress, their health, and providing them with a safe place to talk is one of our main goals.

Thanks to your support, Sophy has become an empowered young mother, and is determined to give her daughter Neary a great future. Neary is in great health, and we will continue to monitor their progress for the next year.

*Names have been changed to respect our beneficiaries right to anonymity.

The phrase is a common one - "It takes a village to raise a child." So common that if I only say "It takes a village" in your head you will finish with "To raise a child."

Cultures of the West may not understand the deep meaning to these words. They may understand that raising a child is a collaborative effort, but not have experienced personally, just how collaborative this can be.

In Cambodia, so much of a person’s identity is based on who their family is and their role in the family.

To be without family is to have very little value and identity.

Because of this, MHO as a very strong focus on strengthening family bonds and rectifying broken family relationships. And we’ve had success.

Here is one of those success stories.

Sophy stood on a bridge, looking down. Hopelessness and desperation had brought her here. She wore loose clothes to disguise the reason she was there. When she first found out she was pregnant, she couldn’t believe it was true. She knew she had to tell her boyfriend. When he found out he was in as much shock as she was. They sat in silence. They made plans to see each other the next day but he didn’t show up. She waited. Then she called. The phone rang and rang. No answer. She called every day. By next week a message came across the wires that the phone number was no longer valid. He had left her. She was unmarried, would soon loose her job, and didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t stand the thought of telling her parents – they would be so ashamed of her. The neighbors would gossip. Her father had a heart condition, she didn’t think he would survive the loss of face and disgrace. For a month the question, “what will I do?,” went round and round in her head. Until it brought her to the bridge. It had all become too much to bare.

Sophy, standing on that bridge, needed help. She needed somewhere safe to go. She needed her village of support and care. By some miracle a moto taxi driver brought her to MHO. I still don’t know how he knew about us. MHO supported her with medical care. We offered her counseling and were there with her through the crisis. Our staff were even with her in the delivery room because she had no family there and they were the first to congratulate her on becoming a mom. MHO was the child’s first village.

But an organization is not family. She needed her parents. Her baby needed family. Once the baby was borne, slowly we helped her rebuild relationship with her parents. It took time, but finally, they invited her back home. Their love for her was stronger than fear of shame. And so the child’s village grew.

As supporters and donors, you are part of this village as well. You may not know the names and faces of the children you help, but you are a part of their village, helping to mold and shape them.

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Our story starts with a little boy named Sisoroth*, he was born a little over a year ago. His mother is an orphan, very young. His dad left when he was still in her womb. When he was born, Sisoroth* had a very small cranium. It instantly looked suspicious to our staff, and we sent him to see doctors to check that his development was going well.

The specialists we sent his mother to were not very helpful. She came back saying that one of them even told her that he had no brain. Another one said that he was “fine”.  

But we never gave up.  

We finally called a young Canadian doctor who was practicing in Phnom Penh for a year, and she was able to give us the contact of a doctor who had access to an MRI machine.

We finally got a full diagnosis, so we could support him and his mum. He has a microcephaly. Signs and symptoms of microcephaly may include a smaller than normal head circumference that usually remains smaller than normal as the child grows, delayed motor and speech functions, mental retardation, balance and coordination problems, and other brain-related or neurological problems; There is no treatment to change the head size. Even though there is no cure, we researched his disability and knew that Sisoroth* needs regular physiotherapy and special care in order to develop his motor skills.

While at the hospital, the chief doctor came to us, and asked for our support. He had been trying to find families and placements for 20 children that were abandoned on the premises. All of them presented disabilities ranging from mental impairment to severe physical handicaps. Some had been living there for eight years, with no possibility of going outside. Years restricted to one small room without proper stimulation. It was heartbreaking. 

We didn’t know how we could help at first. Our primary mission is to support women during a crisis pregnancy, and even though we partner with organisations that find permanent foster families, finding placement for 20 children seemed like an impossible task. 

But when we visited the room the children were in, we knew we couldn’t just go home and forget their little faces. With no one to call “mama," with little love, and certainly not the care they needed.

Our team started talking to all of our partners. We spent hours on the phone, we met other NGOs, we spread the word. 

Once again, we persisted.

The little ones were filling up our dreams, our nights and we believed that we were sent to help. 

Thanks to our partners at Save The Children, at Mlup Russey, Sisters Of Mercy, CIF, the Ministry of Social Affairs, and many more, 15 children have been placed in permanent foster care, or relevant institutions.

We are proud to be part of a movement to make Cambodia a better place.

Since 2010, we have supported 240 women, who had nowhere else to turn to. We saw 245 children being born, and none of them were placed in institutions. Our staff started with 3 dedicated individuals, and we are now 29, ranging from Social Workers, Midwife, Operational staff, and Country Director.

And, this year we pledge that 100% of all donations will be go in the field. Thanks to Manan Trust and Imago Dei, who cover all operations cost, every single penny you donate is going to empower women, keep children from traffickers, and provide Cambodia with a new generation of empowered women. 

We know our work is not finished.

None of this would have been possible without your support.

You provide us with the necessary means to keep our operations running. You donate money, clothes, food, and moral support. It’s not easy to be where we are needed, but thanks to you, we provide assistance to more than 100 women and children every year. 

Today, we need you more than ever. We want to keep our doors open for another 5 women in our program. 

With as little as $20, you will provide a scan and antenatal checkup to a single mother. We know times are hard and we thank you for donating as much as you can to our cause.

GlobalGiving, has chosen Mother's Heart to compete amongst some of the most prestigious NGOs, and we count on you as our faithful supporter to earn us a spot at the top! The GlobalGiving Girl Fund Campaign is an opportunity for projects dedicated to women and girls to gain support and funding and to compete for a chance to earn a spot in the GlobalGiving Girl Fund for all of 2017. The campaign will run from March 1, 2017 - March 15, 2017 with a matching day on March 8, 2017 to celebrate International Women's Day. 

Again, you have it possible for Sisoroth, his mother to stay together, and have the support they needed. Thank you. 

*Names have been modified to respect our users' anonymity

Sisoroth
Sisoroth
Target
Target

Hello,

I’m reaching out to you because you’ve been such an integral part of our organization’s family. You have been a donor and volunteer— and your dedication has been essential in helping build a healthy, happy community.

As you know, during this special time of the year, it’s important to remember those of us who may struggle. Sisoroth* is one of our babies, who needs an extra boost to overcome his disability. Read Sisoroth’s story. Tell others how your support made such a difference in these children's lives.

Together, we need to raise US$50,000. Without your donations, we will have to turn down 25 women. That is also (at least) 25 babies that won't benefit from our services. We know we can do it together as we are dedicated to fulfil our mission and objectives for the year.

Please consider creating a personal fundraiser page and recruiting friends and family to help your individual campaign. Our Tips and ideas page should provide the support you need to share our cause. Click here to visit.

As always, your support is essential and very much appreciated.

Wishing you the best this holiday season,

Emily Scott, Country Director

Links:

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

 

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Organization Information

Mother's Heart

Location: Phnom Penh - Cambodia
Website: http:/​/​www.mothersheartcambodia.org
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Katrina Gliddon
Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh Cambodia
$98,957 raised of $150,000 goal
 
404 donations
$51,043 to go
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