“I am happy since we now – especially my two grandchildren – have enough nutritious food to eat. We always use vegetables from our home gardening, and eggs and meat from our chickens for daily food consumption. In addition, we started selling our vegetables for income. Hopefully, we can sell some chicken soon. I would like to express my deep thanks to CIF for all your support and guidance to us, especially the great work you have done to transform lives of my two grandchildren. Thanks to their better condition, Saran* is now attending grade one of the primary school. While Phally* is happy with her kindergarten class,” said Grandma with big smile.
The circumstances for this family have not always been this optimistic. In December 2019, a local church and authorities alerted Children In Families (CIF) of two young girls, Saran* and Phally*, in the care of their grandparents. Due to the age of the grandparents and poverty level, as well as the severe mental illness of their mother, the girls were at high risk of family separation.
An assessment by CIF staff revealed further complications, including chronic health conditions in the girls and a developmental delay in Saran. The children needed regular visits to a hospital in Phnom Penh for medication and treatment. Due to travel putting a strain on the grandparent’s finances, the girls’ condition remained untreated.
CIF enrolled the two children in our family preservation project called FOR-1 (Family of Origin as First Priority) by January 2020. With the guidance of our family preservation, as well as, intervention of CIF’s ABLE project, the family’s situation shifted positively.
Providing Special Services
Our programs not only helped ease the financial burden of the family, our field staff with FOR-1 provides them with case management. This involves monthly home visits with training on positive parenting, child rights and protection, sanitation courses and training. Each visit also includes monitoring on the quality of care and child protection. And, during the season of COVID-19, we provided additional training and supplies such as: facial masks, Krama scarfs, soaps, detergent, shampoo, etc. The family members were taught to use these properly to protect themselves from the virus.
Additionally, our ABLE staff provide special services. We monitor their health follow-ups; as well as, coordinate and support the grandmother who takes the girls to the hospital for their medical appointments. ABLE staff guide the grandparents in the distribution of the girls’ medication, ensuring it is consistently and appropriately administered.
ABLE staff practice speech with Saran. From almost non-verbal, she is now able to say simple words and increase her vocabulary. Not only ABLE staff but the whole family cooperate in helping her practice; she’s made gradual yet noticeable improvement. The health of both girls has increased day-by-day.
“Before it was difficult to understand Saran when she spoke. Now, she is speaking more clearly and saying more words. My both of my grandchildren have become healthier thanks to the appropriate medical treatment and caregiver guidance given to me by CIF staff. I am happy to see them in better condition than I could have imagined,” said grandma in smiles.
An added bonus to being walked alongside by CIF, the children’s mother is getting treatment for her mental health. Her capacity to take care of herself is increasing with her mother’s support. Also, she can be there for her children more.
Partnership & Active Participation
Partnership between CIF and the local church continues to be crucial. The local church has played vital role to comfort the family. The family has joint weekly worship at the church, occasionally receiving food support especially during COVID 19. The church also helps monitor the child protection. They report to CIF if further actions are needed to guide the family for positive parenting.
By working with the grandparents, CIF staff has explored their strengths, weaknesses, and other possibilities to better their family. Our FOR-1 program focuses on livelihood development, as well. As a result the family started saving a little from the provided monthly stipend. Now, they garden and raise chickens.
It takes partnerships from community, active participation and willingness from the families, and collaboration across programs within CIF to improve the lives of children, families, and communities. It is entirely worth it. It is proven that children do better in families. CIF strives for holistic care because we recognize that struggles within family units are rarely due to one facet of life.
To merely rescue the children out of their circumstance would be to take away the God-given responsibility for the parents and grandparents to raise two amazing girls. Instead, we strive to see circumstances improve for all. It’s not the easier way but it is the better way.
Because all children deserve loving families.