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
Support single women during their crisis pregnancy
Support single women during their crisis pregnancy

Dear Supporter,

April is World Health Month.

Cambodia has the highest infant and under-five mortality rates in the Indochina region, at 97 and 141 per 1,000 live births, respectively. Vaccine-preventable diseases, diarrhoea, and respiratory infections are among the leading causes of childhood death. 

The Kingdom also has one of the highest maternal mortality rates, despite UN goals set up for the end of 2015, numbers have remained high. 

A maternal death is any death that occurs during pregnancy, childbirth, or within two months after giving birth or terminating a pregnancy. Maternity-related complications are one of the leading causes of death for Cambodian women ages 15 to 49.
The vast majority of these deaths could have been prevented through good quality care during pregnancy, delivery, and the postpartum period.

“Even when mothers can access healthcare, the overall quality of care is deficient, magnifying the challenges women face in overcoming potential health problems during and after birth,” UNICEF said in a recent report.

We think that these statistics are not a fatality and we provide our service users with the best care available.
Samey's Story
Samey came to us late in her pregnancy. She is a young woman, with beautiful dark eyes, that reflected a life that was not always kind to her. Her baby bump was barely showing, but she was already in her last trimester when we met her. She had the usual aches and pains but the check-up and ultrasound showed nothing uncommon. 
When she started going into labour, her sister took her to the hospital and stayed with her. Mother's Heart social worker, Somphors, and our midwife, Sreytouch, checked on her regularly. They made sure both nurses and doctors looked after her well. Hospitals are overcrowded and sometimes, their staff can be overwhelmed and forget to check on their patient. 
Her delivery was long and she struggled through it. Our staff kept regular contact with her sister as she was getting weaker, losing the strength to keep pushing. Her eyes looked tired, the sweat on her forehead was making her hair wet. Her pillow was damp. Her eyes were starting to look hazy. Monitors showed that both mother and baby were in distress. 
The doctors decided to perform an emergency C-section. Samey lost a lot of blood and needed multiple blood transfusions. After surgery, she lost consciousness. We didn't know if her baby was going to meet his mother.
Will he know the warmth of his mum's arms? Will he grow up in his own family? What would happen to that newborn child?

She finally regained consciousness after three painfully long days. Then, she was in and out of hospital still not recovering. After multiple blood tests, doctors discovered that she contracted a rare heart condition that could only be diagnosed during or after delivery. She spent the next few weeks recovering. 
Mother's Heart helped with all her medical expenses and assisted her with food during her hospital stay, hospitals don't cater for their patients in Cambodia. She will probably never fully recover her strength, her heart functioning at 30%, but she knows that our doors remain open should she need advice, support and love. 
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Clients' background
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Statistics about our clients

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Mother’s Heart has been operating for 6 years, soon to be 7. 

We first started with a small group of dedicated people led by Katrina Gliddon, with the vision that no women should face a crisis pregnancy alone. Katrina, Nara and Somphors believed we could make Cambodia better by helping single women shunned from their community. They accompanied them on the way to motherhood, and showed them that despite adversity, they were in control of their lives.

The following years, our staff grew in numbers, and we are now 22 working full-time to improve the lives of single women. We are still the only crisis pregnancy center that councils women about their 3 choices: parenting, kinship care and termination (referal to Mary Stopes). 

We provide Pregnancy Support to strengthen single pregnant women’s access to all the services relevant to become a parent, among which: medical care, family reconciliation, maternal education, day care, job placement.

Katrina Gliddon has had to go back to Australia with her family. She is still involved in Mother’s Heart as a board member and is fundraising as our Founder in Australia. 

Mother’s Heart now has a Senior Management Team (SMT), composed of:

•Emily Scott, Country Director 

•Nara Chear, Finance Manager

•Somphors Seong, Senior Social Worker

•Charlotte Buckley, Operations Manager

•Rebecca Tjoa, Communications and Fundraising Manager

This allows Mother’s Heart to have a collegial structure that is prone to open dialogue. Together as a SMT, we are building a strong strategy for our future.

Each member of our staff follows the lead of our founder by being passionate about our vision and dedicated to our mission. 

As a supporter of our cause, you must have been inspired by Katrina, her vision for Cambodian women and children and her strong leadership. We vow to remain true to her founding principles. 

Our focus is on our service users, with a goal to reach maturity by servicing more women, supporting them with Honesty, Ethics, Authenticity, Respect and mutual Trust. This will remain the HEART of our mission for years to come, and we look forward to having your support in our endeavors.

Mother's Heart Senior Management Team

 

 

 

 

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Admitting failure is scary because we fear judgment and blame. But mistakes are something we should embrace as they force us to see what we have done wrong and positive changes that need to be made.  

Safe staff.

Safe staff are vital for programs working with vulnerable populations. So Mother’s Heart takes strict precautions when we hire new staff (professional references and police checks), but these precautions are not guarantees.

We made the dangerous mistake of hiring someone who was unsafe.

At first this staff member seemed like an asset to the team. He came with a good reference and was willing to learn.

But soon the warning signs came.  He fell asleep during work ours, had very poor hygiene coming to work with dirty clothes and without bathing, constantly pawned his phone, went to coworkers houses to borrow money, and spoke gruffly to clients.  He also delayed in getting a background check – a requirement for all staff – saying he had put his ID card as guaranty at the bank.

Management met with him about his behavior and even had to draft a written warning.

One Monday he just didn’t show up to work. He didn’t show up the next day either.  Worried about him, our social worker went to find his home to see if he was ok.

He was a crystal meth abuser, had gone on a binge over the weekend, and was still coming down from the high. 

This story could have been very different and the alternate endings make us feel sick.

But that sick feeling is good if channeled correctly. We channeled that fear of what could have happened from our mistake into learning. We are as convinced as ever that our clients need to be safe and we will do what it takes to ensure they are.

Now, before we hire new staff we have a list of requirements: 1) Two references (one professional and one personal) 2) A background check 3) A character reference from the village chief 4) prospective staff must be willing for us to go make personal inquiries about them in the communities. It’s a lot. But it’s necessary.

And the staff member with the addiction? Our social workers told his family about a rehab facility and he is not getting the help he needs.

We hope others can learn from this too.  Do what it takes to know who you are hiring, especially for those working directly with clients. We’re relieved nothing truly terrible happened and have put systems in place to make sure it never does.

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Mother's Heart Partnership with Little Lambs Day Care

It is such an amazing opportunity to witness single mothers learn skills and then work to support themselves and their child. That's why Little Lambs Day Care exists, to provide a child care service for single mothers so that they have the opportunity to train and find employment to support themselves and their children.

I have been working as the day care coordinator now for three years and it has been a privilege to see women thriving in their role as mum.  Being a single mother is not easy, but these mothers work hard at it, and do an amazing job. I love watching the mothers return at the end of the day and seeing the children’s face light up as they run to their mothers for a hug. It shows what a great attachment these children have with their mothers. Our children do not have attachment disorders (which is so common in children who grow up in orphanages). This means the children within our day care have a great start to life. They also have the opportunity to be part of our high quality early childhood program as well as receive nutritious meals throughout the day. We have five wonderful highly dedicated Khmer child care workers who provide the children with wonderful learning opportunities. It had been great to watch these workers grow in their understanding of child development and improve their skills in providing an educational early years program.

I remember one little boy who started at our daycare when he was 14 months old.  His mum had been working in the province but had come back to the Phnom Penh for a better training opportunity. When this boy started at daycare it was evident that he was slightly developmentally delayed; he had absolutely no interest in toys or playing and no interest in attempting to walk. He just sat and stared. Through lots of patience and perseverance from the staff we worked closely with him to encourage him to walk and helped him learn to play. Now he is a happy 2 year old child, he loves playing, running around and has caught up developmentally. His mother has almost finished her training course and will soon begin work.

The early years of a child’s life are very important and a high quality early childhood program provides a child with the foundation they need to succeed in school as well as in their life. This year we will have our first child leave us to start school. She will be attending a great local Khmer school.

At the moment the daycare is at full capacity; in our current premise we can only take 20 children. We need a bigger building as well as more childcare workers. It is our hope that we can eventually have 4 rooms for the different age groups, allowing for smaller group sizes and a better program catering for each specific age group.

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Mother’s Heart does crisis pregnancy care well. However, we don't do medical care, mental health counselling, drug prescriptions, job search, vocational training … the list goes on. These are things for which we dependent on the work of our deeply respected partners.

 

SreyTouk*, three months pregnant, suffering from extreme morning sickness and a UTI, was referred to Mother’s Heart by the government maternity hospital. Mother’s Heart has become well known to hospital staff as we use them for all our client’s antenatal, delivery and post-natal care.

 

SreyTouk had been in hospital ten days yet was without any of the essential care (meals, bathing, purchasing medicines) that, in Cambodia, is the role of the family to provide. SreyTouk was surrounded by broken relationships. Lying, desperately demanding attention, experiencing emotional and mental health issues, claiming a black being was there to torment her, her family had had enough and although her older brother had dropped her off, none of her family had been seen since.

 

SreyTouk told Mother’s Heart counsellor that she had been gang raped. It was only later that Mother’s Heart staff found out the truth. In reality, SreyTouk had lived together with her boyfriend who she met while working in a factory. When she was three months pregnant, she left him, calling him abusive and saying she no longer loved him. SreyTouk was too ashamed to admit this to her family hence the story about gang rape.

 

Because none of her family wanted to help her, Mother’s Heart partnered with a shelter where SreyTouk might stay during her pregnancy. However, when she became suicidal Mother’s Heart called on two more partners; a shelter that had a mental health counselling program and a facility that was able to assist SreyTouk with medication for her mental health issues. SreyTouk’s emotions were all over the place. She said she saw ghosts. Sometimes she would yell and swear at staff, other times she was very cooperative. At the shelter SreyTouk was able to stabilize, she stopped seeing things, and even worked at sewing for the three months preceding delivery.

 

Following three months maternity leave, SreyTouk began work for an organization that had a day care attached where she could remain close to her baby while she learned how to make paper flowers and greeting cards. It was here that she connected with a man from another province who wanted to marry her. Unfazed by the presence of a baby, this man took her to visit his family where his mother really liked her and invited her to join their family. So SreyTouk married and moved to his province.

 

Now SreyTouk works with the family selling sugar cane juice with her baby girl nearby. Her new family are even helping the couple to buy a house. Five partners together with Mother’s Heart were part of this happy outcome!

 

*All client names are changed to protect their identity.

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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
$179,998 raised of $350,000 goal
 
1,011 donations
$170,002 to go
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