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1 March 2022 - Story

Outstanding male caregiver shares experience of violence and alcohol-addiction

“Before, I only cared about drinking alcohol. I was madly drunk and never thought of doing any housework or worrying about my family. I often arrived home late at 7pm or 8pm. I abused my children and my wife when I was drunk. This made my neighbors hate me because I was so bad,” said Horn Ham, a 44 year-old father.

“Even worse, I destroyed household furniture and items used in the kitchen,” he continued. “Since Save the Children’s teachers taught me how to take good care of my children and to stop using violence, I have started paying attention. I can say that I have changed about 80% to 90% of my drinking habit.”

Mr. Ham, who earns little income as a fisherman and construction worker, is currently living in Kien Chrey Commune located in Kampong Cham’s Kampong Siem District with his wife, Ms. Youn Sophal, 40 year-old, who is a housewife. They both are parents of seven children with the youngest being a five-month-old boy.

My husband was uneducated. He did not know how to raise our children correctly. We were unconcerned about our children’s learning. We just let them be and some dropped out of school already,” Ms. Sophal said, adding that she too was unschooled.

In 2020, with funding support from Save the Children Hong Kong, Save the Children started implementing the Raising Awareness and Innovative Strategies for ECD (RAISE) project within Mr. Ham’s community. In close collaboration with local authorities, the project began establishing male caregiver groups, which helped provide knowledge to men about their children’s development and their role in engaging in childcare.

Both Mr. Ham and Ms. Sophal were introduced to the project and were invited to participate. They have received a total of 12 trainings from August to December 2021.

I’ve learnt a lot. I build a new habit of speaking and playing with my children to help them grow well. My young child is smart, as I noticed and that was because of the new ways I learned to raise him,” Mr. Ham spoke happily.

With obvious happiness and positive changes in his family, Mr. Ham was also invited to join the male caregiver group where his role was to lead and teach other young fathers who also faced alcohol addiction and used domestic violence to give up those behaviors and to understand the importance of children’s development.

In order to stop young fathers from drinking alcohol in their spare time, Mr. Ham has organized regular meetings where they talk about the changes in their families, experiences of parenting and raising small children, and reflect on what they have learned from the project.

Boeng Bobos village chief, Mr Nou Roun expressed his content at seeing the changes in Mr. Ham’s family, “I remembered there were many arguments in his family all throughout the day and night time. But now they have changed. They no longer destroy things and instead they care about their children.”

Dam Tithiavan, RAISE project officer who observed the changes in Mr. Ham’s behavior said she was delighted to work with him and to witness the happiness in his family.

“Mr. Ham’s family has changed their daily behaviors. They have helped each other with household chores, and understood how to raise children. They have really applied all their knowledge to teaching their young children and share it with their neighbors,” she said.