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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
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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Supporting women in crisis pregnancy.
Supporting women in crisis pregnancy.

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. Tina (not her real name)  is one of the many women who walked through our door.  This is her story, as told to one of our social workers who helped weather her crisis pregnancy.

Tina is the youngest in her family. They were so poor that she only finished the 7th grade. She came to Phnom Penh in search of work to help her family. She waited tables and learned massage but didn't earn very much. During this time, she met a man at work and fell in love. Things were going well between them until she found out he was married and it was too late - she was already pregnant.

Tina knew, in her heart, she wanted to keep the baby even if she would have to do it alone. She didn't want her mother to know, afraid that shame and shock would be too much for her mother's ailing heart to bear. She kept it a secret from her whole family.

She knew of Mother's Heart from her friend and made her way to us. When we first met her, she poured out all her emotions and blamed herself. Disappointed, rejected, alone and not knowing what to do next, Tina, we learned, was also on the verge of being homeless. She used to live with friends but, when she got further along in her pregnancy, she could no longer work and contribute to the living costs. With nowhere else to go and no one else to turn to, she found herself on our doorstep.

Mother's Heart accepted Tina to the program with open arms. She entered our women's house and while there, we noticed she was very responsible, helped out when she could, and looked out for the other women there. Mother's Heart helped her not only with the delivery expenses but also taught her practical skills on how to take care of herself and her baby. 

After giving birth and feeling stronger, she found work as a manager at a physical therapy shop and worked hard. She is training and managing staff. Tina is happy that she can take her baby with her to work, too. It is challenging for her most times, juggling work and child-rearing at the same time, but she is determined to make it work.

Tina is getting recognized for her hard work and diligence. The shop where she works is expanding and her boss wants her to manage a new branch that is opening in a new location.

Despite this accomplishment, Tina's heart still yearns for her mother and for her family but feels she is not prepared to face them yet. She knows it will come, one day, when everyone is ready and the timing is right. Although she has done very well and rarely needs our help, Tina still comes to us to for counselling. She needs a confidante, a listening ear in the absence of her family. Our social workers see that there is so much confidence and happiness in her life now. Her baby, whom she adores, is growing healthy and her source of joy.

Tina chose to have her baby and it changed her life completely in ways she never imagined. Whatever choice a woman makes, Mother's Heart  will walk with her thoughout the journey with love, compassion, and hope for a better tomorrow.

***

Mother's Heart Organization Highlights

New Clients. From June-August, six women have entered Mother's Heart's Pregnancy Support Program, five are in our Phnom Penh office, and one in Battambang. They are currently receiving counselling and antenatal care with the help of our counsellors, social workers, and midwives. In total, Mother's Heart now has a total of 80 women in our program, 55 in Phnom Penh and 25 in Battambang, from January-August period.

What's making us busy. In Phnom Penh, Mother's Heart prepared education and training activities held separately in Phnom Penh and Battambang. In Phnom Penh, 12 mothers and pregnant women participated in different educational and training activities organized by our social workers; a demonstration class on how to prepare nutritious food for babies using vegetables and fruits that are available locally, and a session on budget management. We also invited clinicians from All Ears Cambodia to share their knowledge on ear health and ear care, especially for babies and children. In Battambang, 19 participated in the activities. They also had a demo class on baby food preparation and another class on the dreaded dengue fever, how to best avoid getting it, and how to care for children with dengue.

Thank you! Mother's Heart hosted a group of international visitors and individual supporters during this period. The visitors got to know more of Mother's Heart's vision, mission and activities and met some of the staff. Some of the visitors were also able to meet the mothers and babies in our office, in the day-care, and in our community. They gained a deeper understanding of the challenges that women in crisis pregnancies are facing, and saw for themselves how their support is impacting them. Overall, the visits were a great way to connect with the community so that they can share these insights to their respective communities when they returned home. We appreciate them spending time to get to know us during their holiday in Cambodia!

We also received donations of clothings, milk, and cash that were dropped off in our drop-in centers in the city. They are absolutely wonderful and useful many moms and babies will be happy to receive them. We thank them for always thinking of Mother's Heart and for sharing their blessings with us.

Antenatal check up
Antenatal check up
Food preparation demo
Food preparation demo
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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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Organization Information

Mother's Heart

Location: Phnom Penh - Cambodia
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @MHOCambodia
Project Leader:
Katrina Gliddon
Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh Cambodia
$119,594 raised of $150,000 goal
 
657 donations
$30,406 to go
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