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
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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Sambo thanks donors and supporters
Sambo thanks donors and supporters

Highlight: From January to June 2020, there is a total of 51 women and 48 children in Mother’s Heart Organization’s Crisis Pregnancy Support Program (CPSP). Of the 51 women, 9 cases have been closed as they have already achieved independence and no longer needed Mother’s Heart’s support. There were also 7 new women registered in our CPSP. During the same period, 6 babies were born.

As COVID-19 makes it way around the globe, millions have been infected with the virus and effective treatments and vaccines are still beyond our reach. All of us are impacted  by this pandemic and no doubt has put the already vulnerable population at even more risk.

As soon as COVID-19 started spreading rapidly, Mother’s Heart Organization took steps to protect the health and safety of our staff, beneficiaries, and community.  This includes setting up a precautionary plan/guidelines, including assembling the key members of the senior management team to man the office on a rotation basis and requiring the rest of the staff to work from home. The plan was to move forward yet continue our activities and maintain impact to our clients and community in a remote context.

In March, just within two weeks of the government’s imposition of travel and movement restrictions, 12 of our beneficiaries lost their jobs and their sources of income. Mother’s Heart acted swiftly to provide emergency support packages (food and stipend for rentals and utilities) to our beneficiaries and their families. The daily social distancing and increase in shutdowns of more and more avenues of employment meant more and more of our beneficiaries are losing their financial independence and the means to support their families during this time.  

Every month, beginning in March, our beneficiaries received food packages,  including 15kgs of rice and other food items, and a modest stipend to help cover rentals and utilities.  This support will continue for as long as our beneficiaries need it, or when access to employment resumes. While this means an unexpected increase in current and foreseeable future expenses as for our organization, we must provide support for as long as it takes.  This activity is critical and has impacted our already tight budget this year, but we will continue to find support for this.

Following the guidelines by the Cambodian Ministry of Health and WHO, Mother’s Heart temporarily halted field activities as well as face-to-face counselling and maternal education trainings. Due to the large part of the work is on-going psycho-social counselling that require face-to-face interactions,  our staff members reach out to our beneficiaries regularly by mobile phone instead. For health checks and other medical requirements, our staff members accompany our beneficiaries to hospitals and health centers following safety precautions.

The uncertainty and fear brought about by COVID-19 has impacted our beneficiaries as it threatened to be a backward step to the progress they’ve already made or working on before the worldwide outbreak happened. These regular phone calls are critical in ensuring that the young mothers don’t feel isolated, alone and insecure; and in helping them manage their expectations, feelings and emotions. We also monitor if they and their babies are well-fed, safe, and secure while weathering this health crisis. We also continue provide them with protective masks, alcohol, hand sanitizer and cleaning kits to accompany our information-dissemination activity to protect themselves and their children from getting the virus, as well as resources on what to do and where to go in case they start having the symptoms.

As of 14th of July, there have been 165 recorded COVID-19 cases in Cambodia. No deaths have been reported. As restrictions ease, air border has been opened and airports resume operations. While public and private educational institutions are still closed, more and more commercial establishments have started re-opening and slowly returning to normal activities, or rather, what is the new normal these days. We have seen some of our beneficiaries return to work, others are still waiting for their employers’ call or are being assisted by our staff members in finding new employment.  Our maternal education trainings and other activities will resume slowly with  utmost safety precautions. We are also fortunate that, so far, there have been no infections amongst our beneficiaries and our staff. For this we are grateful, and we are taking all the precautions we can to maintain this while we continue our work.

Mother’s Heart would like to mention our gratitude to donors and supporters who took it upon themselves to support our emergency response activities. We are grateful to you, our supportive community, inside and outside of the country, who have stepped up to the plate and helped raise funds,  our July Bonus Day donors,  and those who provided in-kind donations. On top of these, we also appreciate very much the encouragement you are giving us. Your efforts are truly inspiring and are helping our beneficiaries go through this crisis, especially when funds are tight.

***
Last month, we celebrated our 10th year anniversary. From a small team of 4, Mother’s Heart began operations in 2010 in a rented apartment. That year, there were 7 women in our care. Over the years, our Crisis Pregnancy Support Program was developed and improved that it is at the forefront of maternal and infant health and preventing mother-child separation in Cambodia. Over the years, hundreds of young vulnerable women came through our doors bringing with them their stories. The women’s stories differ but one thing they have in common is that they are in crisis. Our work ensures that when they get step out of our doors, they are more secure, more stable, and have the capacity and capability to raise their babies independently than when they walked in.  In 2017, we opened our second office in Battambang province to reach out to many women in need without leaving their homes and support system.

We could have not accomplished all of these without you, our donors and supporters. On behalf of the women and children whose lives you have touched and helped transform, and from all of us at Mother’s Heart Organization, we thank you so very much from the bottom of our hearts.

Thank you for all the provisions and support.
Thank you for all the provisions and support.
Psycho-social counselling and support packages.
Psycho-social counselling and support packages.
Mother's Heart staff souvenir photo
Mother's Heart staff souvenir photo
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Mother's Heart Organization 2019, at a glance
Mother's Heart Organization 2019, at a glance

Mother’s Heart  has just closed a challenging but very rewarding 2019, with a total of 101 women supported and 84 babies born in our care. Your generosity has impacted their lives and ensured mothers are healthy, stable or working towards stability, and their babies have a better start in life.

The impact of Mother’s Hearts’ works are, perhaps, best measured one mother and baby at a time. The value is even higher when the community recognizes the importance of the services we provide and gets involved to ensure that a woman gets their further support and services so she can start her new life as a mother.

Here is one example of how our partners and community rallied behind one of the women in our care.

***

Stories straight from Mother's Heart
Our clients come from all walks of life. The beginnings of their stories are all different, and so are the endings. But one thing each woman has in common is this: when she comes to Mother's Heart, she is in the midst of a crisis.

Each year, dozens of Cambodian women are trafficked to China and sold as brides.
Vorleak*, not her real name, is one of them; she comes from a poor farming family in rural Cambodia, and is helping her widowed mother to support a family of ten. 

One day, a stranger approached her family offering her work in China as domestic help for $1,000 USD a month. Like most young, out-of-school women in rural villages lured on the promise of a better income and brighter prospects, she jumped at the opportunity, only to find out that she had been sold and forced to marry a Chinese man.

For many months, Vorleak had been in domestic servitude under the close watch of her husband and his family. They controlled her movements, finances, and banned her from communicating with her family in Cambodia. When Vorleak found out she was pregnant, she was distraught. However, undaunted, she made a plan to escape. One day she found her opportunity to run away and made it to an embassy where she was assisted to come back to Cambodia.

Pregnant and ashamed to go back to her village, she was referred to MHO by the Provincial Office of Social Affairs, Youth and Veterans affairs in Battambang province. She was immediately given medical and social support.

During her pregnancy break, Vorleak was provided food support by one of our local partners, Hope for Justice. Her family, upon learning of her situation, came to her aid, something that doesn't happen often to a single, pregnant woman in Cambodia. Through counselling and home-visits, regular maternity check-ups, and by her participation in maternal education classes, we began to see a marked change in her. She began to smile again and engage with those around her. When she gave birth to her baby, we saw those changes in her continue. Our midwife is happy to note that baby’s growth is on track and that Vorleak was doing everything needed to ensure her baby is healthy; the baby is meeting important developmental milestones.

These days, Vorleak is back in her village. She continues to receive support from Mother’s Heart for her continuing life journey and personal recovery. You can find her there taking good care of her baby and, at the same time, managing a small but thriving home-business she set up with the help of World Vision Cambodia. 

There are many other stories of vulnerable women like Vorleak who are facing crisis pregnancies in Cambodia. Without intervention, they would have faced pregnancy isolated, alone and with limited options that would put both them and their babies’ health, safety, and even their lives, at risk.

Vorleak is taking steps toward stability and increasing independence and these wouldn’t be possible if not for your generosity.

*Her name has been changed to protect her identity.

 ***

We also would like to thank our local partners, local authorities, business establishments, and those supporters who continue to be actively involved with Mother’s Heart’s beneficiaries and program. To those who gave their support to us in the recently-concluded 2020 GirlFund Campaign, we are truly grateful.

Young mother and baby, Battambang
Young mother and baby, Battambang
Reflecting on their life experiences, anger mngt
Reflecting on their life experiences, anger mngt
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Educational Classes and Training
Educational Classes and Training

Mother’s Heart Organization Highlights:

From September to November, Mother’s Heart Organization has accepted a total of two new clients, one each from our Phnom Penh and Battambang provinces. Between the same period, a total of eight babies were born with seven girls and a boy. In total, we now have 81 women and 79 babies receiving life-saving support and services under the Crisis Pregnancy Counselling and Support Program.


What's making us busy: Maternal Education Classes

A. Food and Nutrition

Ten mothers and child carers in Battambang recently participated in the food and nutrition class taught by our social worker and midwife in our office there last November. They were re-introduced to the concepts of food and nutrition and the different food groups. One of the tasks for the participants was identifying nutrients-rich vegetables that are grown locally. There was also a participatory cooking demonstration in which they learned how to prepare a multi-ingredient porridge using vegetables available in the local markets. Other things discussed were food hygiene and safety practices. Our staff will conduct follow up home visits to check on the mothers and carers and observe any changes in their practice. 

B. Money Management

Twelve young mothers in Phnom Penh office attended the money management class in October. In order to achieve empowerment, Mother’s Heart equips our clients with the basic financial literacy, which includes budget planning and saving, and how to live within their means. The women who attended this class are already employed and since they are young they easily spend beyond their means.  Hence this series of money management classes are conducted. To give the women a good understanding of what budgeting and savings mean, Mother’s Heart staff use a learning-by-doing methodology where the women are given real-life scenarios and, with the use of play money, do some budgeting and savings exercises.

Staff News:

A. Mother’s Heart staff receives First Aid Training

The two-day course was attended by our staff from the social work, medical, and day care departments and covered basics such as choking, burns and shocks, wounds and bleeding, drowning, common allergies and illnesses, and CPR with focus on babies/children. Also emphasized during the training was the importance of the safety of the responder by assessing the scene first before doing anything else.

The knowledge and skills were put to a practical test when the trainers, who are medical professionals from our partner organization Chab Dai Coalition, quizzed the staff on what to do by providing different scenarios and required each one to perform Heimlich maneuver for choking and CPR.

Mother’s Heart works with pregnant women and babies/children alike and it is important that our staff are capable of providing immediate aid when a child or a pregnant woman has suddenly taken ill or has been injured while waiting for medical help. Trainings such as first aid equip them with the knowledge and skills to handle emergencies in the work place and beyond.

Savy, one of our staff said, “I need to know how to help if someone has an accident. Now that I have some knowledge, I feel I can do that.” We are looking forward to the next level of first aid training in the coming months.

B. New Staff:

Mother’s Heart is pleased to inform our supporters and donors that we have a new staff addition. She is Kim SreyMach, our new Women’s Home mother. She provides support to the women and babies staying there – many of the women have intellectual disabilities while some are teenagers so they need a safe place to stay where there is a house mom looking over things and helping them be independent. She has years of experience in a similar capacity and we know that she is very capable of taking care of the residents there.

Thank you!

This year’s GivingTuesday was a success and we learned a lot of lessons from our experience. On top of our list, we would like to thank our supporters and donors who participated in our GivingTuesday campaign. Our work would not be possible without you. We are already looking forward to next year’s campaign.

 We would also like to thank our friends everywhere for always thinking of the mothers and babies in our care. We regularly received donations of clothings and toys.

We are truly grateful and thankful to you all for sharing your blessings with us.  

 

Money Management Class
Money Management Class
First Aid Training
First Aid Training
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Organization Information

Mother's Heart

Location: Phnom Penh - Cambodia
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @MHOCambodia
Project Leader:
Katrina Gliddon
Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh Cambodia
$137,284 raised of $150,000 goal
 
773 donations
$12,716 to go
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