Protecting Children’s Well-being and Happiness
Sok Makara, a 13-year-old boy and grade 6 student, lives with his grandmother in a small tile-roofed house, located in Poung village of Ou Reang Ov District in Tboung Khmum province. Makara openly reflects on his experiences and discusses why living with his parents was so difficult before.
Makara said that everything changed for him and his two siblings after the divorce of his parents in 2013. Makara remembers that his father used to drink heavily and argue with his mother until one day his father hit his mother, which made him feel very upset. His life at home began changing a lot, where his mother took his sister to live with her and his father wanted to take his brother and him to go and work in Thailand.
“I had to live with my father’s relatives for a short period of time until I moved to live with my grandmother,” Makara explained, “These constant changes and problems were seriously affecting to my mental health.”
Because of his disrupted family environment, Makara had to earn a living by finding snails in the paddy fields in his village after school. He earned about USD 2.5 per day to support his grandmother. Ms. Mong San, 86, Makara’s grandmother told us that she felt bad about the experiences Makara had faced, which made him become more silent to the point where he did not interact with other children.
In 2019, with funding support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), Save the Children and its partner Phnom Srey Organization for Development and Social Services of Cambodia, the project started working closely with the local Commune Committee for Women and Children (CCWCs) to provide support and counselling services to families and children like Makara.
“When I first started providing counselling to Makara, he did not want to talk to me,” Ms. Ey Leng, a Village Volunteer, explained. “He sometime cried while I asked about his parents.”
Ms. Leng kept going back to his house for further counseling. After Makara had met Ms. Leng a few times, he began to trust her, and told her all about his concerns and past experiences with domestic violence. After 8 months of counseling, Makara feels much better about his mental health. “I do not feel lonely anymore,” Makara expressed with a big smile. “I am very happy to live in a safe home environment now with my grandmother.”
His grandmother told us that she is excited to see the change in her grandson as he is now interacting with other children in the community. Makara is thrilled when he heard about receiving new study materials and a bicycle as a part of the project. Makara said that he wants to be a “Teacher” in the future so he can help other children to learn.