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24 January 2024 - Story


An elderly couple, who are grandparents of six children, are committed to providing their grandchildren with the best possible care and opportunities for development, a responsibility they were not always fully accountable for when raising their own children.

The couple, Mr. Doch Chantha, aged 63, and Ms. Chhoy Saran, aged 62, reside in Kampong Trom Leu Village, Kaoh Mitt Commune, Kampong Siem District, Kampong Cham Province, and grow small crops for a living. They have six children and ten grandchildren. Currently, they look after four grandsons and two granddaughters whose parents work far from home, while four others live with their parents in different places.

The six grandchildren range in age from 2 to 15 years old. They have been living with their grandparents since they were born because their parents could not bring them along to work, according to Mr. Chantha. "Their parents come to see these kids, either once or every few months, and in some cases, only once a year. They rely on my wife and me as their parents to care for our grandchildren."

"Taking care of six grandchildren my age is challenging and exhausting, but I love them, and I hope their parents can have enough time to work and survive their families," Ms. Saran said.

According to both, the children’s parents provided them with a monthly spending of USD 100 per child used for buying them daily meals and milk.

Initially, Mr. Chantha and Ms. Saran raised their grandchildren in the same manner they raised their children when they were young. Their approach changed when they started attending caregiver sessions, a gathering of many mothers and grandmothers who shared insights and tactics for improving their child-rearing skills.

The caregiver session is among other activities of the Grandparents, parents, and communities join forces to give boys and girls 0-3 years old a healthy start in life (GRAND) project, funded by Save the Children Hong Kong, which was introduced in July 2022.

This session, led by trained facilitators, equips caregivers with valuable knowledge and skills related to childcare and child development. Additionally, caregivers gain insight into child protection and development.

The first caregiver session was held in early 2023 at a public space in the community but was later reallocated to Mr. Chantha and Ms. Saran’s home, a venue that all group members found suitable.

"Before I joined this caregiver session, I often responded forcefully to my grandchildren, how I used to treat their parents. I shut and slapped them when they were not listening or misbehaved," Ms. Saran said. "I’ve learned these behaviors are inappropriate and unhealthy for our relationship. I now use sweet words and prepare entirely cooked meals instead of packaged snacks for my grandchildren. In return, they listened and expressed love and respect."

Caregiver sessions improve parenting abilities and highlight the significant roles of male caregivers. Mr. Chantha recognizes the value of small actions that promote caregiver well-being, as he also attended the sessions with his wife.

"I am aware that household chores are many and heavy for women. Some men overlooked this and ignored their responsibilities in a family. I care for my wife and my grandchildren. Giving them more attention and supporting them change how we interact with others for the better," Mr. Chantha said.

The granddaughter, Chanmonyrath, 11 years old, said her grandparents hold a special place in her heart, and wished to stay with them as long as she could.

"I love my grandparents because they are now very nice and gentle. They blamed me and others [cousins] sometimes, but it’s because we were wrong. My grandpa calmed us down when we fought and explained to us," she said.

Chanmonyrath said her grandparents always spend time with her and other cousins every day after school. They visited the pagoda, the bridge, and the animals. Her grandparents also accompany them to read and calculate numbers in their spare time.

Mom Kong, a caregiver group member, believes the couple, Mr. Chantha and Ms. Saran, are excellent grandparents. She enjoys attending the sessions at their house, as the couple is known for their kindness and friendliness toward their neighbors.

"I join the sessions regularly because they always welcome us warmly. This caregiver session is a great gathering where every member could talk openly and share concerns for guidance," Ms. Kong said.


Interviewed by: Tha Sophy, Project Officer
Written by: Taing Vida, Communications and Campaign Manager
Proofread by: Chin Kethya, Donor Reporting Specialist
Photograhpy: Yous Ratha, Communications Officer