This story from our Social Work Technical Advisor James Farley tells exactly how a better future for one child who was at risk was secured through mutual understanding, collaboration and dedicated program work under the Family+ program, a USAID funded initiative implemented by Friends-International.
(Please note – the photos accompanying this story are used to generally illustrate the work of our reintegration team and are not connected to the subjects of this story in any way.)
James said “ As I was leaving Cambodia from Phnom Penh airport I met a foreign couple and a young street living deaf Cambodian woman (aged 25) they have been supporting for some years. One year ago this couple contacted Kaliyan Mith (KM – the Friends-International program in Siem Reap) as the woman had given birth to a son that she was unable to care for due to her street lifestyle and her anger management problems. The couple had tried themselves to find foster carers for the baby in Battambang but contacted KM as this was not working out. With the baby being moved around between families and some talk of selling the baby, the couple felt out of their depth and didn’t know what to do.
KM staff travelled to Battambang and traced the baby. Seeing that the situation for the baby was very unstable the baby was returned to KM and placed in our foster care program. With the help of teachers from the Krousar Thmey Deaf School in Siem Reap KM were able to meet and communicate with the young mother about the situation via sign language. Various options for KM to support the mother to care for her baby were offered, however over the course of several meetings (all supported by Krousar Thmey) it became clear that the young woman felt that due to her transient lifestyle, gang involvement, deafness and emotional problems that she really would not be able to provide adequate care for her son, and her son would be in danger with her. KM staff ultimately agreed with the young woman, who showed good insight into the reality of the situation. The baby was kept in KM foster care, and, as the young woman refused to give any details whatsoever of her extended family, a number of Cambodian families wishing to adopt a child were identified and assessed.
By coincidence I met with the mother and her foreign supporters at the airport. The woman was desperate to know that her child was safe and being loved. I called to Kong Sith (Family Reintegration KM) who was able to confirm that after a period of time in KM foster care the boy had been placed permanently with a good Cambodian family, and was well settled, happy and thriving. This was exactly the news the mother and her supporters had wanted to hear, and there were tears of relief all around as they learnt that a safe and loving future for this child had been achieved.
Thanks to Krousar Thmey staff in Siem Reap for helping out, and well done to Sith and Chhorn at KM for a good piece of work. A potentially awful situation for both mother and child has had a good outcome, and it was all done in a clear, professional, transparent and caring way by all involved.”