Cambodian Children’s Fund reunites abandoned 4 children with their mothers after stepping in to help with their care

Scooping up her two-year-old daughter in her arms, Sokhey held her close and gave her the biggest kiss.

“I am just happy to have my family back,” said Sokhey, holding on tight to little Theara.

The reunion between mother and daughter could not fail to move anyone who witnessed the touching moment, which took place at Cambodian Children’s Fund’s nursery.
For Sokhey, the overwhelming feeling was not just joy at being back with her girl – evident in her eyes and the warm hug with which she enveloped the toddler – but relief that her daughter was safe.

Sokhey, a mother-of-five, had received a telephone call from a relative telling her that Theara and the two other children she had entrusted temporarily in the care of an older relative in Phnom Penh had, in fact, been left alone on their own for days to fend for themselves.

“I was very worried,” she said.

A neighbour had been feeding the total four children in the house, including Theara, her two brothers aged five and four, and another seven-year-old boy, who was the grandson of Sokhey’s elderly relative.

Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF) were called to help by the local chief of area in Steung Meanchey, Phnom Penh, after a neighbour alerted authorities to the plight of the children.

“There were four children left at home without adult supervision for a few days,” said Hoy Leanghoin, CCF’s Community Outreach Manager.

“These children stayed in a rental room with an old many who was working as a beggar and did not return home and no one knew where he was. The children were fed by the neighbours.”

CCF took the four children into temporary residential care while a search began to locate the childrens’ mothers. CCF strives to find the best solution for children brought into temporary care, for whatever reason, and always works to reunite families where possible.

Luckily, both mums were quickly located and CCF was able to reunite all the youngsters with their families.

Watched by staff from the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, the mums marked documents confirming they were officially the childrens’ legal mothers.

Atey, 29, travelled from Kampot province, 157 km from Phnom Penh, to be back together again with her son, Virak, seven, who had been rescued from the house along with Theara and her siblings.

Her son’s grandfather was supposed to be looking after Virak, said Atey. She had sent her son to the city for better schooling, she said.

Authorities believe the grandfather had been going out begging on the streets, leaving the children on their own in the rented room.

“I am angry with my father. I sent money to him to take care of my child,” said Atey.

Thankfully, this time there were happy endings to the story.

Theara and her brothers went home with their mum, Sokhey, who also has a three-month-old baby and another older girl, who lives with grandparents.

And Virak headed off with his mum, Atey. Back with his family, as he should be.

Kate Ginn/CCF

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