Vicheka found herself surrounded by a group of concerned women. Heavily pregnant, she would wash dishes, do mending, or help sell food, anything to earn enough to buy food for herself. At nights she settled down to sleep on the street. She had attracted the attention of some local women who worked and lived in the area. With compassion they collected some money together to give to her. One of the ladies allowed her to sleep in her home. Another gave her Mother’s Heart’s phone number.
At seventeen, Vichekahad arrived in Phnom Penh hunting for work. In the province, it was her mother’s aunt who had raised her. Her own family – mother, father, grandmother and younger brother had all died while she was a child. In Phnom Penh, Vicheka worked as a maid or doing odd jobs. It was not long before she met a boy…
Unfortunately, her partner was a savory character. Their first child died. Then Vicheka was pregnant by him again, this time with twins, yet her partner would not take responsibility for her or the babies.
34 weeks pregnant, Vicheka called Mother’s Heart and was taken into the pregnancy support program. She was found a place to stay until delivery.
The birth did not go well. Vicheka lost a lot of blood and needed a transfusion. An impassioned scrabble ensued as Mother’s Heart social workers struggled to find blood donors. There is a widespread policy in Cambodia that in order to receive a blood transfusion, the relatives or friends of the sick person must donate an equivalent amount of blood before the transfusion takes place. Often doctors or staff will donate blood when there is no family. But Vicheka was giving birth on a holiday, there was hardly any staff around. A dear friend of Mother’s Heart was able to give 4 units of life saving blood for Vicheka.
Gradually recovering, Vicheka left hospital. Her stalwart neighbors urged her to give one or both of her babies away. “Yes but how will you provide for them? At least give one of them away.” Vicheka was very torn. She truly did not know what to do. It is so hard for single women with one child to survive but two, impossible!!!
With Mother’s Heart counseling, Vicheka was able to clearly evaluate whether or not she was able to keep her babies. Staff assured her it was her decision; they would support her in whatever she chose.
Vicheka has decided to keep both babies. Together she and Mother’s Heart staff created a plan for her future. She desperately wanted a job so Mother’s Heart staff set up an interview with a partner organization. At this interview Vicheka excelled and was accepted into their one-year program. Now she has a safe place to stay, a supportive community, and a job.
Vicheka, is proactive about the care of her twins, everyone notices it. She still gets help from Mother’s Heart; they provide her with nappies, formula to supplement her breast milk, and emotional support from the staff when she needs it. But Vicheka is succeeding to make a life for her small family in Phnom Penh.
She is an amazing, strong, and determined young woman and all involved in her life are extremely proud of her.