Mummy* is a nun. She and her sister have devoted their entire life to God. They never got married and therefore don’t have children. For them, fostering is a way to give chances in life to kids in need of a family. Mummy started fostering in 2013 and has proven to be a loving and skilled foster mother. That’s why we knew she would be the best temporary foster mom for Chantola*.
Chantola was left at a hospital in Siem Reap. About 4 months old back then, his mum took him to the hospital. She asked a woman waiting in line to hold him for a while as she had forgotten something outside, saying she will be right back. But she never came back.
Extremely confused, the woman carrying the unknown baby called the police, which referred the case to our ChildSafe Hotline straight away.
When picking up the baby, our team immediately guessed why this child had been abandoned by his parents: he had visible health issues.
Our team placed Chantola in our transitional home for one night and called Mummy to ask her if she would agree to foster Chantola for a while. She came to visit him in our transitional home the morning after and took him home.
“I felt sorry for this boy and I wanted to help. I don’t have children of my own and fostering abandoned kids gives me the feeling of having a family”
encouraging progress for chantola
Chantola has a rare condition causing water retention in the brain. He needs to get regular check-ups to make sure the condition does not get worse.
“His head was very big in the beginning. He was getting sick very often and I had to take him to the hospital on a regular basis to check on his health and get surgery. Once, I stayed for over a month with him in hospital. I was sleeping there with him. He fainted and stayed unconscious for 3 days. I really thought he would die, I was so sad. I cried a lot. But the doctors saved him.”
A year and a half ago, Chantola got surgery to place a tube going from his brain to his bladder to drain the water and avoid the skull to grow bigger because of water retention. The size of his head has already decreased dramatically and Chantola has progressed a lot: he now walks, talks and has gained strength.
Mummy considers him as her grandson and talks about him very proudly.
“He has a strong character. He is very curious, likes to play and gets bored very easily! He is very sneaky and always takes food in the fridge and on the shelves of my shop. He loves cakes and cookies.”
Chantola will get new surgery in November, to check his brain and the state of the disease. He will most probably have to keep the water tube for another 2 years before the problem is completely resolved. We are still working on tracing his biological family but as we haven’t found it yet, he will be staying with Mummy for the time being.
Mummy’s little shop by the road.
Chhorn, our social worker visiting Chantola
Hope for abandoned children with disabilities
With very few services or facilities for persons with disabilities coupled with strong social stigmas, many Cambodian children with disabilities are abandoned by their parents. They are seen as a burden for the family and a sign of bad luck: as Buddhists, some people believe in Karma and think that a person with disabilities has done bad things in their previous life.
The lack of appropriate support services makes integration in society difficult and reintegrating children with disabilities to their birth family is extremely challenging as they need extensive care.
Luckily, over the years an increasing number of Cambodian foster parents have opened their homes to these children. However, with one-to-one care, hygiene material and special medical treatment being pricey, we still need to provide long-term material and financial support to these families.
We are struggling to find funding for them but you can make a difference! Help us to provide a loving home to a child in need.
* Names changed to protect identities