Extract from the speech given by Emily Scott, on June 1, 2017 during our fundraiser "Heart of the Party".
“ [...] Thank you all for being here today.
I wanted to take a few minutes to explain why we are all here.
Sophy stood on a bridge, looking down. Hopelessness and desperation had brought her here. She wore loose clothes to disguise the reason she was there. When she first found out she was pregnant, she couldn’t believe it was true. She knew she had to tell her boyfriend.
When he found out he was in as much shock as she was. They sat in silence. They made plans to see each other the next day but he didn’t show up. She waited. Then she called. The phone rang and rang. No answer. She called every day.
By next week a message came across the wires that the phone number was no longer valid. He had left her. She was unmarried, would soon loose her job, and didn’t know what to do.
She couldn’t stand the thought of telling her parents — they would be so ashamed of her. The neighbors would gossip. Her father had a heart condition, she didn’t think he would survive the loss of face and disgrace. For a month the question, “What will I do?” went round and round in her head. Until it brought her to the bridge. It had all become too much to bare.
1 in 5 women from vulnerable backgrounds in Cambodia will find themselves in a similar situation as Sophy - with a crisis pregnancy. That’s tens of thousands of women each year. Let that number sink in. Maybe you know someone like this. Our dream is that they won't need to go through this crisis alone.
That Sophy would not have needed to contemplate suicide. That there would be a place women like Sophy could go and be met with compassion and understanding amidst her crisis. That medical and social services would be available to her as a single mom should she choose to parent.
7 years ago I found myself sitting in a tuktuk outside a factory 17 year old woman sitting opposite me. She was 8 months pregnant. It was the summer after my sophomore year and I was interning with MHO. I grew up in Cambodia so I am used to hearing stories of sadness and injustice, but I found myself stunned by this girl’s story.
This girl had been raped and was pregnant as a result. The perpetrator was on the run and it wasn’t likely she would receive justice. She was also working 8 hour-days standing on her feet in a factory trying to make a living. She hadn’t been to any pregnancy check ups. She was only a few years younger than myself, but our lives were so different and I couldn’t comprehend what she was facing.
I remember being so in awe of MHO social workers. Listening attentively to her words and being with her in that moment when no one else would. Most importantly, they were bringing hope, hope that she didn’t need to go through this alone. Hope that if she chose to parent or relinquish the child that MHO would be there to support her along the way, financing her medical care, paying for housing and food while she took maternity leave, parenting classes and helping her get back on her feet after the delivery.
Because of her new hope and the help MHO could offer, she had a safe delivery, became a mom at 17, and is successfully and lovingly providing for herself and her baby.
Our job is not easy. When we see girls as young as 12 come through our doors, when year after year 30% of the women we help are pregnant because of rape. Our hearts break.
But Sophy, standing on that bridge, she needed help. She needed somewhere safe to go. By some miracle a moto dop brought her to MHO. I still don’t know how the driver knew about us. She had her baby and slowly we helped her rebuild relationship with her parents. Finally, they invited her back home. Their love for her was stronger than fear of shame. Thank you for attending tonight and making it possible for us to help women like Sophy.
Thank you for giving her hope. Thank you to Alchemy for the venue and to our sponsors ABA, ENSEAS, and Kamask. Thank you to all our raffle sponsors. You have made it possible for us to continue our work, and to be closer to our goal of making Cambodia a place for single mothers. Have a lovely evening”
We can now officially announce that we raised US$9,683, thanks to your support and your dedication in making our vision come true: No woman faces a crisis pregnancy alone.