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

Leap is one of 59 women you have been helping over the last 8 months. Unlike many of our clients, she was aware that she was pregnant only a few weeks into the pregnancy. She got in touch with our organization right away. She was raised by her grandma who cared for her deeply, but with many other family members to take care of, both Leap and her grandma needed some help. Leap had faced some struggles early on in life that caused anxiety and depression. The thought of having to raise a baby alone made some of the anxiety come back and it was often a challenge for her to think about future plans and set manageable steps to reach those plans.


With time and much support from Mother’s Heart staff, Leap began to grow in confidence. Instead of feeling ashamed, lost, and constantly worried she began to make plans and achieve those plans. She no longer feels like a burden to her family. She knows that once she has delivered her baby, she will be able to support not only herself and her child, but has plans to help support her grandma as well. Most importantly, she has regained a sense of hope.


This week Leap went into labor - an important next step in her journey to motherhood. Although she hasn’t met her baby yet, she is ready to meet her child and is prepared to provide for her needs.


Mother’s Heart is privileged to be on the whole journey with her and we are humbled that you choose to join with us. We know Leap may hit some bumps along the way – taking care of a newborn and starting a new job will come with its challenges. But with your support, she will continue to meet each challenge with the help of Mother’s Heart.

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Nymol is a Social Worker and Counsellor. She joined our team over a year ago. She is sharing with you her experience with a young woman named Kunthea*. Kunthea joined our program through referal from a partner organization. When we receive calls for suypport, our Case Manager, Ruthie Giovas, assigns cases to one of our Social Work Team. Here is Nymol's story:

"My name is Nymol, and I have been a social worker and counselor at MHO for almost 2 years. I joined MHO to support women who were shunned from their families for being pregnant and single. My work helps women like Kunthea*, who was referred to us by the Commune Committee for Women and Children (CCWC). 

I was her counselor, and met her on her very first counseling session. She told me about her situation: she was living with a man who said he loved her. He gave her a home, money, and found her a job. He said he wanted to marry her, and soon after,  he moved in. She felt respected and looked after. 

After a few months, she was getting sick. She visited the doctor, who told her she was 5 months pregnant.

 When she shared the news with her fiancé, he asked her to get an abortion. She was upset and confused asking why he was not happy. That is when she found out he was already married with 3 children. 

She felt hopeless. She was ashamed and embarrassed, she couldn't tell her friends or family. 

Her "fiancé"’s wife found out about the affair, and threatened to kill Kunthea. The man’s family eventually paid Kunthea $1,000, with the promise not to see him again, and to disappear. 

Her ex-fiancé kept trying to contact her, and wanted to continue seeing her. When she refused, he told her employer that she was pregnant, and single. She got fired, lost the apartment she lived in, and ended up isolated and vulnerable. After she moved out, her ex-fiancé stopped calling. 

MHO took her in, helping with food and housing. She was provided with counseling sessions, and joined our Pregnancy Support Program.

Four months later, as she felt labour was starting, she called her family. She was scared, but she really wanted to share this special moment with her mother. Her mother came. It was lovely to see them reunited. Kunthea’s mother thanked us for helping her daughter, but part of her still didn't know how accept her daughter. They talked, but she didn’t offer for Kunthea to come back home.

After maternity leave, my colleagues and I helped Kunthea find a job as a teaching assistant, and she was happy. Unfortunately she had to miss work when her child was sick, and her employer dismissed her. She is a hard working woman, and after being laid off, she slipped into depression, questioning everything. I was there to answer her calls when she needed her spirit to be lifted.

I also started family mediation, and after a few months, her mum changed her mind and decided to take her in. She moved back with her family, and applied for a good government job. She got hired.

She still works there, and is very happy to have found a good job. She is glad both her family and our team are there to support her. 

I am very proud of her, for never giving up and how she kept her focus despite her circumstances. I liked working with her, to let her find her inner strength. I am honored to have been by her side and to have helped her get to a place where she feels happy."

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2018 was the start of a new chapter of our story. 

With the support of 2 major donors, Ratanak and Beltway Church, we opened a new center in Battambang. The region is one of the poorest in Cambodia.

We currently have 20 women in our program in Battambang. Our staff has been in contact with local NGOs, and village chiefs, and the 20 spaces in our pregnancy support program have been filled. 40% of women in the program are underaged, and need to be closely monitored. Thanks to our midwife, social worker, program manager and tuktuk driver, all of them have been given the proper medical care. Your generosity allowed them to remain safe from trafficking, and made sure their babies remained in a loving family.

Our operations in Phnom Penh are still at full capacity with 90 women currently benefiting from our support program. 

93 babies were born last year under our care. They have been provided with life-saving baby baskets, community mediation, support services and medical care during their pregnancy. 

In Phnom Penh, two counsellors joined our team, and protocols were put in place to diagnose post-partum depression better. Our women come from a vulnerable background: violent partners, trafficking, rape victims, incest survivors, and they need to be closely monitored to make sure they can bond with their babies. 

Many of them feel alone, isolated, and the support given by our social work department is vital for their well-being.

Women like Chantrea*. 

Chantrea* was just 16 when she was referred to us by her village leader. She lived in a small rental room with her mother and step-father. They had no bathroom, and cooked outside of the room on a small stove. Her mother was a massage worker by day, and worked in beer garden at night. Sh came from a violent family, and after her long hours at work, she abused Chantrea* physically. She saw her as another mouth to feed, and lashed out on her very night. 

Chantrea* was taken out of school at a very young age, and her mother made her work at the massage parlour with her. Chantrea* had no choice but to obey, but she missed her friends, and she felt sad every time she came back from work. She longed to study and her dream of becoming a nurse just slipped away from her.

One day, her mother told her: "I found a husband for you". He was 30 yers older than her, Chantrea* refused. She left the parlour, and started selling goods at the market. The hours were long, from 7am until 9pm everyday. But she was eager to make an honest living.

Coming home from the market one night, she was assaulted, and a few months later realised she was pregnant. The abuse from her mother got worse. She insulted her everyday. The beatings didn't stop. Every night, Chantrea* cried herself to sleep. She was alone, isolated, shunned from her community. One evening, her mother kicked her out of the house, but not before telling her about her plans to sell the baby once it was born.

Chantrea* had nowhere to go. Fortunately, her neighbour took her in, and reported the abuse to the village leader. He called us, and our social workers responded quickly. Social workers went to visit her to offer encouragement and let her know she was not alone. We accepted her into our program where she received on going emotional support, food and medical assistance. 

She has now safely delivered a baby girl who is healthy and well. We’ve seen many changes in her since she’s been in our program. She is doing much better emotionally and physically. She’s a wonderful mom, taking active care of her child. Following our midwife’s instructions well, she is breastfeeding her baby who is growing quickly. This is what she has to say:

"I love my child very much. She is very lovely and pretty. I deeply thank MHO staff who helped me to have a safe delivery and have offered many kinds of support. Without MHO and the local authorities my child and I would be dead or trafficked because my mother did not allow me to live with her and was forcing me to sell my child.”

We are proud to have given her support when she had nowhere else to turn to. We are amazed at her resilience, and none of it would be possible without our many supporters, donors, sponsors, without you, none of it would be possible. Your generosity has allowed Chantrea* to become a loving mother, you have kept her baby from being sold, you have a kept a little girl from being separated from her mother.

Thank you.

*Names have been changed to keep our beneficiaries' anonymity

Riding with baby
Riding with baby
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5 reasons why
5 reasons why

1. Lack of medical Care : Girls are at risk of not getting adequate prenatal care.

2. Low birth weight: Risk of delivering a baby weighing less than 2.3kg.

3. Premature Birth: Higher risk of the baby being born prematurely.

4. Anaemia: More at risk at developing anaemia or low levels of red blood cells during their pregnancy.

5. Postpartum Depression: Twice as likely to have postpartum depression.

19% of girls in Cambodia are married before their 18th birthday, while 2% are married before their 15th birthday.

Parents in the province can earn as little as $130 for a family of 6. Worried about feeding everyone, they marry their daughters very young. The young woman is sent to her husband's home. 

When Sreyneang* left her family to live with a young man she had never met, she was scared. She couldn't understand what she was meant to do. 

Soon after, she was pregnant. She told her husband. He got very angry: "we barely have enough to eat as it is, this is your fault."
That evening, she prepared the little rice they had for when he returned from work.
He never did.

She went to her parents for help. 

"You have failed at your duty to be a good wife. We are full of shame. Do not come back"
That night, she didn't sleep. She fell the weight of the world on her shoulders. She contemplated ending her life. 
The next day, she told one of her friend. They went to the village chief together. This village chief had already met with MHO's social workers before.
He contacted us.

Sreyneang is now in our pregnancy support program. Although she is experiencing a sense of loss, and grief, she knows she is not alone.

MHO provides a vital service to young women in Cambodia.
Help us continue. Donate to our baby basket fundraiser. Provide essential goods, midwife visits, and parenting classes.

For Giving Tuesday on Nov 27, GlobalGiving has $150,000 of matching funds. Women and children in our program are counting on you. All donations will be available for GiftAid in the Uk, and tax deductibility in the US.


Teenage pregnancy
Teenage pregnancy
Crying Hunger @CryingHunger
Crying Hunger @CryingHunger
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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.

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Organization Information

Mother's Heart

Location: Phnom Penh - Cambodia
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @MHOCambodia
Project Leader:
Zarah Jane Rushworth
Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh Cambodia
$179,998 raised of $350,000 goal
1,011 donations
$170,002 to go
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