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Falling in love doesn’t always go as planned. In the province, Thida was having a lot of emotional difficulties. Pakun, a family friend was asked to take Thida to Phnom Penh for treatment. While there, they fell in love and started living together.

With treatment Thida began to recover, but meanwhile the mothers of the couple wanted things sorted. Thida’s mom wanted them married; Pakun’s mum did not. She said Thida was crazy. There was a lot of arguing until Pakun’s mum gave an ultimatum - either leave her or be ostracized from his family. Pakun chose Thida.

Thida’s mum put together a little wedding ceremony for the two and they were married. Meanwhile stresses continued among the parents of the couple. Thida’s father had angrily yelled at Pakun’s mom because she was so cruel to Thida. This turned out to be the last straw for Pakun and he left, despite his wife being three months pregnant. Thida’s mental health deteriorated. She made her way to Phnom Penh with the idea of jumping from a bridge. Thankfully she rang for help and was referred to Mother’s Heart. Distraught and crying constantly, Thida came to Mother’s Heart very needy, demanding and dependent. Yet, somehow the arrival of her baby changed what was happening for her. With guidance from her social worker, she cared for her baby well, becoming stronger and more independent. Mother’s Heart staff continued to encourage and counsel Thida where she learned better care for her emotional health. When Mother’s Heart asked her what she would like to study, Thida replied ‘hair dressing’. Mother’s Heart was able to find a local business where she soon began to excel at her apprenticeship. She learns quickly, and is talented at welcoming and engaging her customers. Thida’s desire is to work in Korea for a few years so as to be able to save enough money to open her own hair dressing shop in Cambodia. To make this happen she attends Korean language classes every morning. While Thida is in class and at the apprenticeship, her mum cares for her baby using formula provided by Mother’s Heart. Thida’s mum is grateful to Mother’s Heart after having seen how much her daughter has grown in confidence and stability. Thida’s own emotional growth has even helped her to better interact with other’s emotions. In a grumpy mood one day the salon teacher spoke harshly to Thida. Undeterred, Thida wrote her a sweet note thanking the teacher for her help. Thida has worthy and realistic plans for her future and is taking steps to reach her goals. She still struggles at times with her emotions. But these occasions now are short and infrequent. Not at all like how they were in the past.

In her late 20s, Boree has had a hard life and it shows on her body, but not her face. Her face is warm, kind.

Five months pregnant and homeless, Boree was brought to Mother’s Heart by another NGO. Boree had managed the very difficult task of breaking free from sex work, but struggled with drug addiction and mental health issues. Mother’s Heart paid for all her medical care, safe housing, and counseling.

When Boree entered the Mother’s Heart program she immediately started learning to sew and has now been working there almost a year. It is work she likes and she is able to support herself, hoping to continue with it in the years to come. When she is not working, Boree says she likes to spend her free time cleaning her home, making it organized, and watching television when she gets the chance.

Boree’s social worker said that one thing Boree struggled with a lot was taking care of her baby. While Boree has taken huge steps in caring for herself, creating stability in her life, making wise decisions about living costs and no longer wandering the streets; mental illness and past drug abuse made it too hard for her to raise a child. There was no help to be had from the baby’s father and her own family abuses her.

Boree made the decision to place her baby in permanent foster care believing that the baby wouldn’t have a good life if he stayed with her. She was able to meet the foster parents and says they are good people.

“I think about my baby a lot. I want to see his face and talk with him. He was 4 months old when he left”. Boree says the way she doesn’t let this overwhelm her is to keep moving forward with life. Her son is now 9 months old.

There have been many changes in Boree, says her social worker. Since starting work and receiving support for her mental health issues, Boree is able to take an interest in her personal appearance and gets along with women at work and others on the program. She is very responsible, arriving at work and appointments on time without being reminded.

Boree, former isolated wanderer, has a place to call home and puts her head on the same pillow each night.

A hair salon owner recently contacted Mother’s Heart to ask whether a woman from our program will be available to join her expanding provincial salon. This is great community cooperation, but what is really exciting is that Chantol, the salon owner, has herself come through a crisis pregnancy helped by Mother’s Heart.

An orphan, Chantol worked in a Phnom Penh Karaoke bar. Her longtime boyfriend was supportive, often helping her out with rent and a bit of spending money. She loved him.

But she became pregnant and her boyfriend found a wealthier girlfriend. He handed Chantol $200 for an abortion and broke up with her. Heartbroken, Chantol faced facts. She was going to be a single mum. She couldn’t work and raise the baby and she didn’t have a mum to help. She wanted an abortion also.

Chantol heard about Mother’s Heart from another client in our program and came in for crisis pregnancy counseling. The support and empowerment by Mother’s Heart staff and the earthy encouragement she experienced in friendships with the other single pregnant mums helped this resilient lady decide to keep her baby. Chantol attended classes at Mother’s Heart on pregnancy, delivery, and healthy relationships.

And gave birth to a baby boy.

The father of the baby visited her to see his son. They soon began to be in contact with each other again. Mother’s Heart staff helped them be reconciled and learn how to grow a strong relationship. He helped financially support her and their son by paying for her rent and even bought her a small motorcycle to ride to vocational training. While her son was at Mother’s Heart day care, Chantol studied hairdressing knowing that with this she could put her Karaoke life behind her.

Her relationship with the father of the baby continued to grow. At the completion of her 6 months training she moved with him to his province to live with his family where he helped her open her own hair dressing shop. She has excelled at it and has trained and employed four staff.

When her salone needed another staff member, Chantol decided to help another woman in the same situation she was in. She and her boyfriend plan to marry once they have saved enough to pay for a wedding.

Their young son is one and a half years old and growing.

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