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Mrs. Moa Tep smiles as she sits on a wooden bed and discusses her family life, and her activities in the parenting group in Save the Children’s early childhood care and development (ECCD) project in her community. Tep is 28 years old and is an industrious young mother with three daughters. Tep and her family live in Reang Til Commune, Kandieng district, Pursat Province; she and her husband, Mr. Dy Sokluy, 27, work as fishers and laborers. The eldest of their young daughters, Luy Sokly, is 9 years old and is currently in second grade. Luy Sreypi, the middle child, is 5 years old and attends a community pre-school; their youngest daughter, Luy Lykay, is 2 years old and is not yet in pre-school.
Every morning, Mrs. Moa Tep gets up early to prepare breakfast for her husband and children. Then she cleans the sleeping area and washes the dishes. After breakfast, she dresses her children and sends her two eldest daughters to school. Afterwards, she and her husband go fishing while her youngest daughter stays with a relative at home. When they return from the morning’s fishing, she sells their catch to people in the village. They typically earn 20,000 to 30,000 KHR per day (around 5- 6 USD). After lunch, they go out fishing again. Tep and her husband use a small boat and must travel a long distance from the village to the fishing grounds.
Although Tep has a busy and demanding daily schedule, she still values her participation in the activities of the ECCD project and the parenting group. Tep explained, “After I joined the parenting group in December 2016, I received training on [positive] parenting. Since then, I have learned more about how to teach children, positive discipline, household materials for playing [games], and teaching children on early Khmer language skills and basic mathematics. I also regularly participate in the parenting group meeting, which occurs twice a month in the village. I have gained more knowledge and experience to teach my children at home while we wash clothes, clean the house, cook, and do other tasks.
“I feel that I have changed my attitude when I respond to my children when they do something wrong. I use positive discipline instead of violence to respond to my children’s mistakes. My children have also changed their attitudes; they can help with household chores like washing clothes, washing dishes, and taking care of each other. They now say ‘thank you’ when they receive something from someone.”
Since joining the parenting group, Tep now uses her free time to teach her children about Khmer language and mathematics. She also said she tries to plant corn and other nutritious vegetables close to the house to supplement the family meals.
“I think that this program is very good for parents to change their attitudes from being careless to taking better care of their children, being more loving and more supportive of their children, and reducing violence against children. The children can receive basic education before they start primary school, and they will be cleverer. Also, I have received some other knowledge of children’s rights, health and nutrition through the Women and Children Consultative Committees (WCCC) and the Health Center staff.”
When the sun sets, Tep cooks and serves dinner to her family. They all eat together and then start to get ready for bed. Before sleeping, she enjoys singing children’s songs with her daughters. The songs are traditional Khmer lullabies—one such song is Koun Euy Keing Tov, a lullaby about the loving bond between children and parents.