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2 March 2022 - Story

Lessons learned from one caregiver for other caregivers

Sitting in a circle with other five young mothers and caregivers, 32-year-old Tim Srey Leak holds a caregiver booklet while she gives lessons on how to improve nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, childcare, and early learning for young children at home.

Ms. Srey Leak, who is known as an active role model for young mothers, is currently living with her family in a small traditional wooden house with a zinc roof in an urban community of Kampong Cham province, Cambodia. In earlier 2021, Ms. Srey Leak worked as garment worker.

Unfortunately, she lost her job following the lockdown and the COVID-19 pandemic. She is now staying at home looking after her one-and-a-half-year-old daughter. Her husband, Va Kimhong works as a construction worker, earning around KHR 35,000 (around US$ 8.75) per day.

Speaking on her past experience, Ms. Srey Leak said her husband and her had limited education on how to take good care of their child and were not able to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy food. Whenever the child cried, they fed her packaged snacks and the child eventually got sick without the proper care.

One of her worst past behaviors, Ms. Srey Leak recalled, was her parenting attitude. She had in the past shouted and yelled at their daughter when the child caused problems and her husband was not of any of help.

Ms. Srey Leak stated, “My husband rarely helped me to take care of our daughter, or with household chores- washing dishes or cooking because he thought it was solely my obligation and responsibility,” adding that this caused arguments in which both her and her husband would use inappropriate words against each other in front of their child.

In 2020, Save the Children started to implement the Raising Awareness and Innovative Strategies for ECD (RAISE) project. Funded by the Save the Children Hong Kong, the project was carried out in 5 communes of the 43 villages in Kampong Siem district of Kampong Cham province, from 2020 to 2021. In close collaboration with local authorities, the project began establishing caregivers’ groups to teach community members how to take care of their young children at home, including washing their hands and reading books with them.

Ms. Srey Leak was invited to join the group and she has learned ways to improve their nutrition, hygiene, and sanitation. Additionally, she has learned about positive ways to raise children and promote early learning for young children. Importantly, her husband also engaged with the male caregiver group session that allowed him to learn about his role and responsibility in supporting childcare and housework.

Describing the importance of nutrition, hygiene, and sanitation, as well as her improvement and understanding, Ms. Srey Leak happily said her daughter is now healthy and that she and her husband now spend more time reading books and playing with their daughter every day. Her child was seen enjoyably listening to the reading.

With active engagement with the series of parenting sessions provided by the project team, Ms. Srey Leak was later invited to attend the Training for Trainers, facilitated by the community formal actor. She now can teach other caregivers who took part in the project and in her community about children’s development.

With a strong sense of dedication, Srey Leak says she is strongly motivated to continue promoting behavior change among parents and caregivers of small children in order to give children the best possible start in their lives.