Tina: A story of picking yourself up when life falls down around you
Our clients come from all walks of life. The beginnings of their stories are all different, and so are the endings. But one thing each woman has in common is this: when she comes to Mother's Heart, she is in the midst of a crisis. Tina (not her real name) is one of the many women who walked through our door. This is her story, as told to one of our social workers who helped weather her crisis pregnancy.
Tina is the youngest in her family. They were so poor that she only finished the 7th grade. She came to Phnom Penh in search of work to help her family. She waited tables and learned massage but didn't earn very much. During this time, she met a man at work and fell in love. Things were going well between them until she found out he was married and it was too late - she was already pregnant.
Tina knew, in her heart, she wanted to keep the baby even if she would have to do it alone. She didn't want her mother to know, afraid that shame and shock would be too much for her mother's ailing heart to bear. She kept it a secret from her whole family.
She knew of MHO from her friend and made her way to us. When we first met her, she poured out all her emotions and blamed herself. Disappointed, rejected, alone and not knowing what to do next, Tina, we learned, was also on the verge of being homeless. She used to live with friends but, when she got further along in her pregnancy, she could no longer work and contribute to the living costs. With nowhere else to go and no one else to turn to, she found herself on our doorstep.
Mother's Heart accepted Tina to the program with open arms. She entered our women's house and while there, we noticed she was very responsible, helped out when she could, and looked out for the other women there. Mother's Heart helped her not only with the delivery expenses but also taught her practical skills on how to take care of herself and her baby.
After giving birth and feeling stronger, she found work as a manager at a physical therapy shop and worked hard. She is training and managing staff. Tina is happy that she can take her baby with her to work, too. It is challenging for her most times, juggling work and child-rearing at the same time, but she is determined to make it work.
Tina is getting recognized for her hard work and diligence. The shop where she works is expanding and her boss wants her to manage a new branch that is opening in a new location.
Despite this accomplishment, Tina’s heart still yearns for her mother, and for her family but feels she is not prepared to face them yet. She knows it will come, one day, when everyone is ready and the timing is right. Although she has done very well and rarely needs our help, Tina still comes to us for counselling. She needs a confidante, a listening ear in the absence of her family. Our social workers see that there is so much confidence and happiness in her life now. Her baby, whom she adores, is growing healthy and her source of joy.
Tina chose to have her baby and it changed her life completely in ways she never imagined. Whatever choice a woman makes, MHO will walk with her throughout the journey, with love, compassion, and hope for a better tomorrow.