A WOMAN FINDS WAYS TO RESTORE HER FAMILY IN THE CAREGIVER SESSIONS
Yeng Khorn, at 33 years old and the sole breadwinner of her family, has discovered the value of attending caregiver sessions. For her, these sessions provide a safe and supportive space to connect with other caregivers and learn new skills and techniques for caring for children.
Ms. Khorn and her husband, Mr. Mech Chhun, who is 43, reside in Doung Village, Tong Rong Commune, Prey Chhor District, Kampong Cham Province. They have three small children - two girls and a boy. Unfortunately, Mr. Chhun has mobility issues due to a fall from a palm tree leading to a foot drop during adulthood.
Ms. Khorn and Mr. Chhun got married in 2008. Despite Ms. Khorn's initial concerns about her husband's difficulty walking, she decided to move forward with the relationship because he was kind and polite. The couple lives in a small broken wooden house.
After their wedding, Ms. Khorn started working at a shoe factory, while Mr. Chhun remained a farmer in his parents' rice paddies. After a year, the couple had their first child. Unfortunately, Ms. Khorn fell ill, which caused her to resign from work and focus on caring for their daughter.
According to Ms. Khorn, the family situation worsened when her husband quit farming and became difficult to deal with as he consumed alcohol excessively and neglected his responsibilities to the household.
"He drank more and more. He gathered with his friends every day. He did not care about the family and started to use violence against me frequently. I have never fought back but often cried loudly and cursed him in front of our children and neighbors. I felt tired with all the household chores and upset that my husband just did nothing," Ms. Khorn said.
To provide for her growing family, Ms. Khorn began collecting and selling snails within her village to make an income. "I usually hunt snails at 7 am, and at around 9 am, I go on a bike to sell them. I hardly earn $3.75 or USD 5 a day, and it’s just enough to buy food we eat daily," she said.
Mr. Chhun acknowledged that he was not always fully responsible for his wife and children in the past, adding that life has been incredibly challenging for him as a man with a disability. "I had been looking for a job, but no one hired me. It’s because I am different. I could not walk," he said. "There was not much I could do for the family. I often drank alcohol. I felt bad and slowly became violent."
With advice and support from the local authorities, Mr. Chhun and Ms. Khorn applied for a low-income identification card and were granted a monthly allowance of USD 50. However, their relationship was not in a good state until Ms. Khorn attended caregiver sessions, where she could connect with other members of the caregiver group.
In July 2022, Save the Children in Cambodia started implementing 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. The project has worked with local authorities to establish caregiver groups and facilitators to provide caregiver sessions. In those sessions, caregivers were taught the importance of childcare and child development, child protection, male engagement, and the well-being of caregivers, including how to stay calm and manage stress.
"I’ve learned to be patient and talk nicely to my husband and children. I took a break whenever we argued but returned to discuss the problem with my husband," Ms. Khorn said. "My husband also joined the session sometimes to see the lessons. The situation in our family improves, and my husband also joins me to hunt snails and look after our youngest daughter."
Ms. Khorn added, "Caregiver sessions provided me opportunities to speak and interact with other caregivers who are mothers and grandmothers. I learned from them and our facilitator how to take good care of children and provide nutritious meals to small children."
Ms. Rim Pheary, the group facilitator and community preschool teacher, observed Ms. Khorn initially seemed upset and miserable. However, as the session progressed, Ms. Khorn became more comfortable and eventually opened up by sharing her experiences and seeking guidance.
"Compared to when I first met her, she is more courageous. She smiles more often and engages more in the group. I’m grateful to see the way her family has adjusted to change," Ms. Pheary said.
In a recent caregiver session, Ly Menghun, the Tong Rong Commune Chief, emphasized that changing the behavior of a couple within a family requires both time and commitment. It’s important to remember that children are affected by their parent’s behavior.
"I am thrilled with the contributions made by relevant stakeholders, particularly the GRAND project team. As a local authority, I am dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for our community," he said.
Written by: Taing Vida, Communications and Campaign Manager
Photograhpy: Yous Ratha, Communications Officer