Sophea* and Sitha* are living in Phnom Penh’s suburbs with their four children. They have been living in this house since they bought it in 2014. Sitha is a soldier and Sophea is housewife, taking care of her children… and numerous foster children!
They are one of our star foster families: Dara is the 8th child they are fostering!
“We want to give better chances to children of our country, offer them a better future”
Dara* was abandoned at birth at the hospital in Phnom Penh, with breathing difficulties and benign skin problems. Finding newborns left alone in – or even in front of – hospitals is not a rare thing in Cambodia. Parents who cannot raise them for health, financial or family reasons see it as the best place to leave their children anonymously, while making sure they will be taken care of.
After spending a few weeks at hospital to gain strength, Dara was referred to local authorities who work closely with NGOs such as Friends to find the best solution for him.
We first took care of him for two weeks in our transitional home where house mothers and doctors looked after him, before he got placed in Sophea’s and Sitha’s home.
Offering a better chance in life to children in need
It all started in 2010 when we were looking for a foster family for an abandoned child. We heard about Sophea and Sitha by their neighbors, who we were supporting at the time.
We conducted several interviews with them, visited their home and checked their background to make sure they would provide love and affection. There was no doubt: they would care for a child as if it was their own.
Sitha and Sophea could go on and on talking about Dara. They are very proud of him: “He is very smart, more than the average child. He understands a lot, is bright and curious.” “And he doesn’t cry much” adds Sitha laughing.
Sophea enjoys very much spending her time home with him while her husband is at work. “I play with him, teach him to clap hands, to stand up, to dance. He loves music and always dances when hearing beats.”
The entire family really loves Dara as if he was a family member. “I feel very happy when I see Dara. He’s so playful, it’s nice to have him at home when getting back from work. Our house is more lively, happier!” says Sitha with a huge smile.
More than for bringing joy to their house, Sophea and Sitha take their role of foster parents very seriously, with strong dedication. “There are so many kids abandoned or living in the streets in Cambodia. By temporarily raising some of them, we want to teach them morality, instill values to make them good citizens. That will be good for their future and for the country’s future as well.”
“We really love the children we are fostering. They bring happiness to our home”
FAMILY LOVE comes FIRST
Sophea and Sitha receive monthly visits from our team to make sure Dara is thriving and they don’t have any issues with him. We follow-up on his health, his well-being and bring food and hygiene materials such as diapers, soap, etc. In addition, Sophea and Sitha get a monthly stipend for taking care of Dara, helping them to cover his living expenses.
Sophea and Sitha are short-term foster parents, while more permanent options are explored. The next step for us is to trace Dara’s biological family to assess the possibility of reintegrating him with his birth parents. If after a few months we are still unable to find his family, Dara will be adopted by a Cambodian family.
In a country where the lack of social welfare measures and family support mechanisms has led to an increase of unregulated residential care facilities (orphanages), we strive to provide all children with love and affection that only a family environment can provide.
But only together can we have a big impact. Help us provide a loving home to a child in need.
* Names changed to protect identities