Supporting Women through Crisis Pregnancy

by Mother's Heart
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Supporting Women through Crisis Pregnancy
Supporting Women through Crisis Pregnancy
Supporting Women through Crisis Pregnancy
Supporting Women through Crisis Pregnancy
Supporting Women through Crisis Pregnancy
Supporting Women through Crisis Pregnancy
Supporting Women through Crisis Pregnancy
Supporting Women through Crisis Pregnancy
Supporting Women through Crisis Pregnancy
Supporting Women through Crisis Pregnancy
Supporting Women through Crisis Pregnancy
Supporting Women through Crisis Pregnancy
Supporting Women through Crisis Pregnancy
A young beneficiary on one of her ANC check ups.
A young beneficiary on one of her ANC check ups.

Dear donors, supporters, and friends,

It’s always a pleasure to share Mother’s Heart Organization’s report to all of you.

At the end of 2021, Mother’s Heart has a total of 109 women and 96 babies and children in our Crisis Pregnancy Support Program in our Battambang and Phnom Penh offices. Fifty (52) of these women and girls entered our program in 2021, and we also have  a total of 43 babies born during this year. We have had in our program many girls under 18 who were pregnant. These strong, courageous young girls face many physical and emotional challenges. But we know it is such a privilege to be able to support and walk along side them through their crisis through your generous support to us via GlobalGiving. Working with very young mothers who are still children themselves prove to be a greater challenge and Cambodia still has a great way to go in terms of supporting children in this circumstance. We work closely with the girls' parents, relatives, or caretakers, and take into consideration their decisions regarding their health and parenting choices, what they want and what they need in order for them to have a stable life with additional support from our partners in the community.

One of the examples of community working together is the number of women (and their children) that were reintegrated to their families during this period. This period we have seen that our family mediation efforts are paying off. We are happy to see the women and their babies (who were in foster care) return to their families (four cases) and welcomed back into their ommunities and, at the same time, their return to their families mean foster mothers can accept new babies while their mothers are still undecided or are unprepared to parent for the time being.

The commune leaders such as the commune chiefs and the members of the commune committee for women and children have also stepped up in their involvement in Mother’s Hearts reintegration activities. Not only that, they were also instrumental in the procurement of civil documents for the women in our program, such as birth certificates, family books, and also in securing ID cards for the women to have access to the government’s COVID-19 subsidy. Our goal for the coming years is to secure these government ID cards for all the women in our program before they leave our care so that they are able to access government subsidies and assistances on their own.

We have also seen some cases of women slowly taking steps towards empowerment, especially our more complicated cases of beneficiaries who have disabilities. With our partner NGOs, these women and girls received specialised support and intervention. In addition, and one of the important things for Mother’s Heart Organization, we are working on our Child Safety Organization accreditation. We expect to undergo the Child Safety Training and Audit in the first quarter of 2022.

COVID-19 continues to pose a challenge in our operations (four of our frontline staff fell ill with COVID-19 in the second half of 2021), we had to find reative solutions, and managed to do so, to continue serving our beneficiaries especially during this time. Three of them were taken to the government-assigned treatment facilities in the city while one was given the go-signal to have home quarantine/treatment. It took them at least a month before they were allowed to return to their homes and work.  Operations in the office returned to normal only in November, 2021. However, the number of staff allowed to go back the office on any given day is still limited (there is a schedule), so were the number of visitors and beneficiaries due to the concerns about the omicron variant.

Our Annual Report for 2021 is currently being processed. We will be including stories of women exemplifying empowerment in this report so please watch out for it.  In the meantime, we welcome you to check out our Annual Report for 2020, if you haven’t already.

We’d like to thank you all of you for continuing to suport Mother’s Heart Organization. Without your support in 2020, we wouldn’t be able to suport all 109 women and 96 babies and children during this difficult time of COVID-19 pandemic.  Please continue to walk alongside us this year 2022.



With gratitude,


Team Mother's Heart

Our midwife performs routine infant check.
Our midwife performs routine infant check.
Our staff in Battambang province on a house visit.
Our staff in Battambang province on a house visit.
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Family reconciliation
Family reconciliation

Dear supporters and friends near and far: These are challenging times for us all, and we hope you’re in good spirits and health!

 As COVID-19 continues to impact our everyday life, we thank you for your continuing support to Mother's Heart. We are doing everything possible to sustain daily operations and provide services to our beneficiaries and, at the same time, ensure they, and ourselves, are safe and healthy.

Although we have been quiet in the social media for a while, we are currently supporting 88 women and 78 children and babies. Five women entered our program in September and three babies were born. At the moment, there are also nine pregnant women waiting for delivery in the coming weeks.

There are four women in our women’s home (shelter) while three more women are in the care/shelter of our partner organization in Phnom Penh. Because most of the mothers are still unable to go back to work, we only have five children in our day care. When the country reopens and returns to normal in the near future, we are expecting more children in the day care. A total of 27 women are receiving receiving support in the form of monthly food packages (consisting of rice, canned goods, etc., plus sanitation items) and modest stipends (to help with their utilities). In addition, a partner organization in Battambang province is also supporting five of our beneficiaries there.

Despite the setback in the progress made by the women in our program due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the first six months of the year, we have seen cases of women whose families’ attitude and behavior towards their daughters' (being single and pregnant, or single mothers) have slowly changed towards understanding and acceptance.

One case is Marady (not her real name) and her baby who were recently reunited with her family after months of being indifferent and not wanting to communicate with her. Convincing her family, especially her father, was difficult. But in each meeting spanning more than 12 months, our social workers, counsellors, and our partners from the Phnom Penh social affairs department and the commune council for women and children had been really helpful in counselling and mediating between Marady and her family members.

When our team officially closed her case, her case workers met with her one last time and gave her a good send off.  She is now with her family, looking healthier and happier, and keeping herself busy in their family's business, while her parents and other family members are doting over her baby.

There is also Mony, a shy 15- year old girl who survived a traumatic experience in her young life that resulted in her crisis pregnancy. With Mother's Heart's support, she delivered a healthy baby boy and continues to receive support and services to complete her healing and recovery.

Due to her young age, the financial hardships of her family, and the stigma from villagers, Mony's baby was initially placed in a temporary foster care. Three months later, Mony was reunited with her baby, and Mother's Heart was there every step of the way working behind the scenes to ensure Mony and her baby have the support, protection, and care they needed for the reunification. However, Mony's story is far from over. Mother's Heart's social worker and counsellor continue to work with her to help her deal with the traumatic experience, and to follow through and provide support to her immediate and long-term needs.

All of these would not be possible without your support to our organization. On behalf of the women and children in our care, we thank you for your generous support to Mother’s Heart. There are countless other girls and women in Cambodia, like Marady and Mony, who have no access to crisis pregnancy services. Your donations to Mother’s Heart will give more vulnerable girls and women in crisis pregnancies access to critical support and services they need to heal, recover, and achieve stability for their and their babies’ future together.

Reintegration. Making sure the baby is accepted.
Reintegration. Making sure the baby is accepted.
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MH social worker distributing food support
MH social worker distributing food support

Chum riep soo, dear donors and supporters. I hope you all are keeping safe and healthy.  Here is our report for the second quarter of the year.

COVID-19 has continued to spread in Cambodia and showing no signs of abating. Cambodia was nearly COVID-free recording one of the smallest COVID-19 infections in the world but the numbers climbed from about 380 after a community incident in February, to 36,240 cases now with 289 recorded deaths (as of June 10), and a daily increase in infections numbering in the many hundreds.

By April, the government imposed a blanket lockdown after a steady increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in different areas (districts) of the capital Phnom Penh and neighbouring Takhmau city, many of which of which were related to the February incident. This resulted to the classification of areas in Phnom Penh by colours: red (severe outbreak), orange (moderate risk of infection), and yellow (low risk) zones. Immediately, travel and other activities were restricted.

The health and safety of our staff and beneficiaries remain as our main priority. As early as March, our staff have begun working from home until April when the city was placed in a lockdown. Our office in Phnom Penh, including our day care was temporarily closed and all the staff worked from home.  Residents in the capital and Takhmau were banned from leaving their homes unless they are essential workers or their purpose for going out is essential.

Nineteen (19) of our beneficiaries in Phnom Penh, many are in the red zones, were critically affected, having no access to work or sources of income and food due to the restrictions. Travelling during the lockdown period was also restricted, so delivering food support and services has been very challenging despite our staff having the necessary permits to travel. But we were able to deploy our social work team to provide support to our pregnant beneficiaries and deliver emergency food packages – rice, canned fish, baby milk formula, soaps, sanitary products, and a modest stipend.  We also received donations of rice, other food items and sanitary products from our local community that we distributed to our beneficiaries. We are also happy to report that 18 healthy babies were born during this period and the beneficiaries received food and other supplies for themselves, their babies, and their families.  We will continue to provide support until the restrictions are completely lifted, the women vaccinated, and are able to return to work.

There are also no infections amongst our staff, beneficiaries and their families. Most of the staff in Phnom Penh have completed our vaccinations while in Battambang are waiting for their appointments. Rollout of vaccines to the provinces have already began and we expect our staff will get their shots soon.

The lockdown has been lifted recently and the red zones have decreased. Because of this, the situation is now improving slowly and things are going back to normal. Wearing masks are still required in public areas. The government is also aggressively implementing a mass vaccination campaign in an effort to vaccinate 80% of the country. We are hopeful for better days to come.

The past months have been truly challenging as we continue to navigate through this uncertain time, we are truly grateful to have you on our side. Your donations have allowed us to continue to respond to the immediate needs of the women and children in our care and be able to accept more women into our program in the midst of a pandemic. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

MH foster mother receiving milk and food supplies
MH foster mother receiving milk and food supplies
MH shelter residents received food and other items
MH shelter residents received food and other items
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Thank you for standing with us.
Thank you for standing with us.

Highlights*
The year 2020 is a year like no other. It was a year that plunged the world in uncertainty, fear, loss, and challenges. It was also a year when we saw a lot of inspiring stories, of incredible people finding ways to connect and help each other. Through this generosity and connections, despite the COVID-19 pandemic in the background, Mother’s Heart was able to deliver the critical support services to the 92 women and 86 children in our Crisis Pregnancy Support Program  (in Phnom Penh and Battambang program office). This number includes the 35 women who entered our program and the 29 babies born in 2020.  In 2021, beginning in January up to the time of this writing, there are 10 newly-registered women and 4 babies born in our program in both offices.

*N.B.: Faces on the pictures have been blurred for privacy.

*** 

At the moment, Cambodia is experiencing the effects of what is called the “February 20 community event” which has seen the biggest number of positive COVID-19 cases linked to a  community outbreak to date. The news of the incident broke on Sunday 21st February 2021 and since then, a number of industries have announced temporary closures or changes to help prevent the spread of coronavirus in the capital and beyond. Based on media reports, positive COVID-19 cases have been registered in 8 provinces – Kandal, Sihanoukville, Prey Veng,  Kampong Thom, Kampong Cham,  Battambang, Siem Reap, and Koh Kong -  besides the capital city Phnom PenhCOVID-19. On March 11, Cambodia reported its first COVID-19-related death: a Cambodian man who was said to be exposed to his employer on Feb. 28. The total number of positive cases resulting from the February 20 community event is 751 and the national total to 1,264. 

As per government order, most of Mother’s Heart staff have resumed working from home again with only a few staff manning the office on a rotation-basis. This is the third community event in Cambodia and third time we are working from home. During the first event, we had some challenges in terms of communicating with our beneficiaries and providing face-to-face counselling but we were able to sort these things out so that in the succeeding incidents, we didn't encounter any major issues anymore. Some of our face-to-face interactions with beneficiaries (counselling) and partners (meetings) have either been postponed or moved to virtual communications or via mobile phones. House visits are only done when deemed critical or emergency cases such as serious physical and mental health conditions, signs of violenace or abuse at home, birth of babies, just to name a few. We are also temporarily closing our daycare centre in Phnom Penh but the staff are on-call in case a mother needed emergency child care support. Like previously, we are using mobile internet apps to communicate between staff and our beneficiaries. The distribution of food support, stipend, and sanitation and hygiene items continues every month. Our tuktuk drivers in Phnom Penh and Battambang offices deliver the food packages to beneficiaries who live far from the offices (especially in Battambang province since many of our beneficiaries live in remote villages). The others, who live close and are able to, pick it up themselves.  So far we have no reported positive COVID-19 cases amongst our beneficiaries as well as their family members and we hope to keep it this way. We continue to stress the importance of hand washing, wearing of facial masks, and the practice of social distancing if  there is a need for our staff and beneficiaries to go out of their houses. We also have telephone numbers list of staff and health centres and government dedicated phone lines to use in case any of the staff or beneficiaries experience the symptoms.


Stories from Mother’s Heart
When Sitha became pregnant, she remembered feeling like she had no hope left. But when she entered MHO, Sitha decided that she would take care of her baby no matter what. So she sat down with her case worker to help her make a plan for herself. She expressed her desire to learn and work after she delivered her baby.

After her baby was born, Sitha attended maternal educational classes at MHO and was able to participate in a skills training program. When older, her daughter started attending the MHO daycare centre. At first, her daughter spent her first few days in the daycare crying and didn’t want to participate in any of the activities. She wasn’t happy until her mother returned to pick her up. The daycare staff would provide her daughter with the comfort she needed and patiently engaged her in play,  conversations, or any other activities. Three months on and she is a completely different child. No more tears when Sitha leaves her in the daycare. Now, she is  enjoying stories, singing songs with the other children, and learning the many important skills.

Sitha is so thankful for the care and attention MHO are giving her daughter in daycare. She says that this has given her a peace of mind knowing that her child is in a safe, loving, learning environment, being cared for while she completes her training, and eventually attends work.


International Women’s Week Campaign
Mother’s Heart’s campaign has just concluded and we are in gratitude to those who participated and supported us for we had a successful run. We are happy to report that we have reached our target of $3,000 putting us in 11th place overall out of the more than 220 participating projects/organizations. Thank you for your generosity. Our work would not be possible without your continuing support and belief in our mission.

A beneficiary on her way to her health check.
A beneficiary on her way to her health check.
Children in the daycare enjoy listening to a story
Children in the daycare enjoy listening to a story
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Flooded roads in Battambang province.
Flooded roads in Battambang province.

Highlight: From January to October 2020, there is a total of 79 women and 68 children in Mother’s Heart Organization’s Crisis Pregnancy Support Program (CPSP). There are 38 new women who entered the program and 23 babies were born this year.

Last month, several provinces in Cambodia, including Battambang, and the capital Phnom Penh  were flooded due to excessive rainfall at the height of the rainy season. In Battambang province, 15 of our beneficiaries’ houses and crops were damaged by excessive floodwater. Out of the 15, seven of them needed immediate help as they lost most of their belongings in the flood. With additional support from our partners based in Battambang, we were able to provide our beneficiaries of with their immediate needs. All in all, the mothers and babies are safe and keeping well despite the natural calamity.

With the current slowdown of economic activity and loss of income compounded by the recent flooding, Mother’s Heart continues to distribute food packages and provide a modest stipend to ensure the women and their babies are well-nourished, healthy, and have roofs over their heads until the restrictions were lifted and they have access to employments again.

Our counselors have the important responsibility of providing counseling service to help each woman heal from emotional wounds, trauma, depression, and also from the insecurity and anxiety brought by COVID-19 pandemic.

Even though infection rates in Cambodia remain low and cases are mostly imported, the impacts of travel and movement restrictions imposed by the government suggests impacts to the women and children have been immense – on their livelihood, food security and nutrition, and their well-being. But, thanks to your continuing support, all the mothers and babies in our care are healthy, safe, and thriving despite the many impacts of the COVID-19 in Cambodia.

These are challenging times for us all. We are doing everything possible to sustain operations and provide services and support to our target beneficiaries.  Next month, Mother’s Heart will be taking part in GlobalGiving’s
#GivingTuesday campaign (December 1) and we hope you will be joining us. Your participation will go a really long way for Mother’s Heart to continue supporting women through crisis pregnancy.

Stories from Mother’s Heart

Last week, our Social Workers taught budget management class to six young mothers in our Crisis Pregnancy Support Program after several months of lockdown due to COVID-19. Panha was one of them.

Panha has a learning disability. Many people with learning disabilities in Cambodia do not have access to education, employment, nor control over their finances. Months after giving birth to a beautiful baby girl,  Mother's Heart supported her by providing her access to vocational skills training and found employment for her soon after.

The money management class is very beneficial for Panha to understand about money, how to handle money, including how to pay bills, planning their savings and spending, and how to keep her job. Our Social Workers ensure that the class is conducted with special consideration of her abilities, making it easier for her. They also regularly check on her progress at work and offer her encouragement and feedback. A young mother like her raising a child on her own needs to be supported to develop her skills.  Mother’s Heart believes that with the right support and guidance, Panha can live independently and better.

A small hut in the middle of a flooded field.
A small hut in the middle of a flooded field.
Closer view of a house in floodwater.
Closer view of a house in floodwater.
Teaching young mothers money management.
Teaching young mothers money management.
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Organization Information

Mother's Heart

Location: Phnom Penh - Cambodia
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @MHOCambodia
Project Leader:
Zarah Jane Rushworth
Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh Cambodia
$178,494 raised of $350,000 goal
 
994 donations
$171,506 to go
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