Back To A Future – Sokphea’s story – from Cambodia to Thailand and back again!

With support from UNICEF and innovative collaboration with The Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MoSDHS), the Peuan Peuan Program started in Thailand back in 2006. Initially the Peuan Peuan team provided services to vulnerable children and youth in Royal Thai Government Shelters, and also support to their parents/ caretakers to empower them to better protect their children and support them into education and training.

Two years later, the Peuan Peuan program expanded to Aranyaprathet (Aran) to provide a complete holistic approach which started from prevention, protection and then sustainable reintegration.

We hear from Rean Reoun, a Cambodian social worker with the Peuan Peuan Reintegration team on how they utilize ‘case management’ together with our beneficiaries to help them achieve their goals.

‘Nowadays, it’s quite common to see Cambodian mothers bringing along children to travel to Bangkok to make money, mainly from begging. Bangkok seems to be an ideal place, not so far from home, full of prosperity and opportunities to make lots of money.  Sokphea* is 38 years old and originally comes from Takeo province in Cambodia. She is divorced and had been living along the border for almost 5 years, hoping to find work. She has six children, five live with her and the other stays with her former husband.

Sokphea told me that she met a Cambodian woman at the border in January 2011, who convinced her to come and beg in Bangkok where she would earn 4,500 baht ($ 150 USD approximately) per month. Sokphea (who was 4 months pregnant at the time) believed this story and went to Bangkok to beg. However, during months of begging on the streets she made no money. She then decided to go to the police for help and was referred to Ban Raitipung (Home for Destitute). This is a government center where Cambodian mothers and children are placed temporarily while waiting for repatriation.

In Ban Raitipung, the Peuan Peuan team met Sokphea, and soon she was regularly attending Peuan Peuan’s sessions – Life Skills Education and Home-Based skills training.  She learned paper bead making skills, made some and earned 3,370 baht ($ 112 USD approx.) toward savings before her repatriation. She also had some training in sewing.

While she was in the center, I opened her case (‘case management’) and collected bits and pieces of information about her during our activities. I discussed with Thip about plans and actions for her case. Thip is my Team Leader and also Case Supervisor.

In September 2011, after repatriation, Thip contacted Sann Oudam, Case Management Specialist at the Mith Samlanh program in Phnom Penh. Oudam then coordinated with Im Sreypao, the Reintegration Project Manager in order to provide further support to Sokphea.

That was how it all started on supporting Sokphea. After family assessment, Mith Samlanh agreed to provide initial provide temporary nutrition and support for Sokphea and her four children. Number five was on the way! Her baby boy was born in December 2011. Her oldest daughter now works in a sewing factory in Phnom Penh, whilst her 13 year old son stays with her and receives some education from the temple nearby. Also at home are a six year old boy and her four year old disabled son (he was born with one leg) and of course baby, who is now ten months old.

The Mith Samlanh team is ready to provide school reintegration and other support to her children.

In March 2012, the team made a second visit to Sokphea and her children to discuss her future life plans. Two choices were discussed, either sewing or starting up a small business.  At first Sokphea thought about sewing, but then decided she would like to start a small business, a grocery stall, in her home town. The teams agreed to this, and supported her to do it.

Not very long after, she started her grocery stall in front of her sister’s house. Sokphea now earns around $150 USD monthly, and has saved up to build a small home for herself and her family. Recently, she has also bought two female pigs and two hens. She is now very happy living in her home town and making a regular income to support her children and herself.

I am very proud as I am her case manager. I really enjoy seeing her progress to being able to support her family through our assistance, and I was very happy to see the smile on her face when Thip and I visited her earlier in June.’

*her name has been changed to protect her identity


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