Along the busy streets of Phnom Penh sits Tum Nup Tuek Church, a familiar landmark to the surrounding community. Chanthy, a devoted member and women’s ministry volunteer, attends every Sunday and considers the surrounding area her home.
“I have siblings in the provinces, but I was born in Phnom Penh and have lived my whole life here,” she shares. “I married my husband in 2002. Now I have three kids, and we live happily as part of this community.”
Chanthy is manager of CIF’s Emergency Care (EC) project. For many children that are a part of CIF’s projects, she is the first face they see. She has been working at Children in Families since 2012. It’s her good relationships with local leaders, NGOs, churches and hospitals that make her so effective in her role. Children come to Emergency Care through referrals from DOSVY or government hospitals because it’s it’s unsafe for them to be in their home environment due to abuse, neglect, abandonment or the death of their primary caregiver.
What happens in Emergency Care?
Children stay in Emergency Care for no more than 90 days, while Chanthy works alongside social workers, potential caregivers, and government officials to find the best possible placement for children. Working through the appropriate channels, Chanthy seeks out all opportunities for the child to return to their family through Kinship Care, but if family can’t be reached or it’s an unsafe situation to return to, CIF will pursue placement in a Foster Care family.
“When children come into our care, there’s a lot of paperwork with different ministries, with the Sangkat [Local Council],” she says. “We want to make sure that all of the children’s basic needs are met. They should have everything they need to feel safe and cared for.”
Chanthy’s work involves providing a safe and nurturing environment to children referred to Emergency Care services. On any given day, she could be doing a range of tasks. “We do a lot of things in EC, like taking kids for health screenings, meeting with caregivers, supporting the children emotionally, getting supplies for their daily needs, or entering case management information into OSCaR.”
But for Chanthy, the hard work is all worth it. “I really love children. I especially have a heart for children who’ve lost parents or are affected by poverty,” she shares. “This job is a great chance to share happiness, warmth and affection with them. I love that I get to do that every day.” She has a soft heart for children, and it’s why she started working with CIF in the first place. She believes that CIF shares her same desires to see children cared for with love and warmth in families.
Chanthy’s Role in a Bigger Picture
Having shared life with others in her own community, Chanthy knows that it takes a village to raise a child. She wants the same strong, supportive network for children in her care. “I want all children in our care to grow in knowledge and in their education. When we support children, we support communities; when we support communities, the whole country benefits.” She knows that Emergency Care is just the first step in moving children into communities and families, but that starting them off on the right foot is key to their success.
As she continues in her role, she hopes to keep learning about relevant topics that will assist Emergency Care. Her goal is to help vulnerable children take their first steps toward loving families, where they belong.