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.
*Names have been changed to keep our beneficiaries' anonymity
Riding with baby