Project #222 Empowering Vulnerable Mothers in Cambodia
Our Partnership with Mother’s Heart Organization (MHO)
As in many countries, women in Cambodia face unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. While the stigma of being single and pregnant is beginning to lessen in western countries, women and girls in Cambodia are often judged as promiscuous or morally corrupt for being single and pregnant. They are considered “dirty”, “a disgrace”, “useless”, and believed to attract misfortune not only to their families but also to the whole community resulting to community members to ostracize them.Women/girls facing crisis pregnancy in Cambodia often come from vulnerable or traumatic backgrounds including rape, poverty, addiction, trafficking, sexual exploitation, incest, being orphaned, and physical or mental disability. In 2018 alone, out of the 110 women and girls in Mother Heart Organization’s pregnancy support program, 41% were underaged and 40% were either raped, trafficked, or involved in prostitution. These vulnerabilities are compounded when they are abandoned by their partners and families. Being a single mother is a quick way to poverty and can have adverse effects on her baby. It is easy to see how this financial burden and loss of reputation leads women to crisis, feeling overwhelmed, isolated, and like they have no choices.
One Day’s Wages partnered with Mother’s Heart Organization (MHO) to empower women with a wide range of support, education, and access to resources throughout their pregnancy; transforming vulnerability and hopelessness into independence and stability, one mother at a time. MHO provided women access to the Crisis Pregnancy Support Program in Battambang province, Cambodia. Apart from the organizations that offer contraception and abortion services when women are faced with a crisis pregnancy, there are still no other organizations in Cambodia that offer support and services to those who want to keep their babies. Mother’s Heart Organization is a local NGO that is the first and currently the only crisis pregnancy center in the country that offers holistic support services to women. MHO’s program office in Battambang province brings critical services closer to more women in crisis without requiring expectant mothers to leave their homes and existing support systems.
Our Collective Impact
Clients Received Medical Care
Total Mothers Supported
Each year, dozens of Cambodian women are trafficked to China and sold as brides. Vorleak, not her real name, is one of them. She comes from a poor farming family in rural Cambodia helping her widowed mother to support a family of ten. One day, a stranger approached her family offering her work in China as domestic help for US$1,000 a month. Like most naïve, young, out-of-school women in rural villages lured on the promise of a better income and brighter prospects, she jumped at the opportunity only to find out that she had been sold and forced to marry a Chinese man. For many months, Vorleak had been in domestic servitude under the close watch of her husband and his family. They controlled her comings and goings, finances, and banned her from communicating with her family in Cambodia. When Vorleak found out she was pregnant, she was distraught. However, undaunted, she made a plan to escape. One day she found her opportunity to run away and made it to an embassy where she was assisted to come back to Cambodia.
Pregnant and ashamed to go back to her village, she was referred to MHO by the Provincial Office of Social Affairs, Youth, and Veterans Affairs in Battambang province. She was given immediate medical and social support. During her pregnancy break, Vorleak was provided food support by one of our local partners, Hope for Justice. Through counselling and home-visits, regular maternity check ups, and participating in maternal education classes, we began to see a marked change in her. She began to smile again and engage with those around her. When she gave birth to her baby, we saw that changes in her continue. Our midwife is happy to note that the baby’s growth is on track and that Vorleak was doing everything needed to ensure her baby is healthy and meeting important growth milestones.
These days, Vorleak is back in her village. She continues to receive support from Mother’s Heart for her continuing journey and personal recovery. You can find her there taking good care of her baby and, at the same time, managing a small but thriving home-business she started with the help of our partner NGO, World Vision Cambodia.
Thank you for making this possible!
Our movement is grassroots, to us that not only means the work on the ground is led by local leaders with the support of the community, but it also means that we raise the funds for our projects through everyday donors just like you. In addition to all the donors that gave $25, $100, or $250 and the campaigners that ran a race or donated their birthday to raise funds, we also want to thank our generous business, school, and faith sponsors who believed in our work and joined the movement.