From the beginning, THE UPSIDE has understood that how we move through the world matters. From our very first day of trading right through to the present, we donate $1 from every transaction to Cambodian Children’s Trust. CCT is a non-profit child protection organisation based in Battambang, Cambodia.

CCT is a community-led ‘Village Hive’ model that empowers and enables vulnerable families to stay together. CCT provides help to poor families and supports hundreds of children each day.

We’re sharing stories of CCT’s work with the Cambodian community, such as that of Bormey…

“My family was poor, so when I separated from my husband I decided to leave my daughter Bormey with my mother, so I could go and find work, and support my family by sending money back to my mum every month”, said mother of two, Sreymom.

Bormey was just two years old when Sreymom left to look for work. Knowing that her own mother could act as a caregiver for Bormey made leaving her village to earn money for the family seem like the best choice.

When Sreymom returned to Cambodia to visit the family while on a break from work, she was shocked to find that her little girl Bormey was not in the family home. Even with Sryemom’s financial support, her mother was unable to meet the basic needs of Bormey and 4 other grandchildren in her care. At the advice of a neighbour, the grandmother decided to take all five grandchildren – including Bormey – to live in an orphanage.

[quote] “I was so angry at my mum. I blamed her a lot. I asked her, “Why did you take my daughter to live in an orphanage without telling me?”’, said Sreymom. [end quote]

“I went to visit my daughter at the orphanage right away. I brought Bormey some food and she ate it all immediately, so I knew she was hungry. I was happy to see her but I felt so much sympathy for her. I saw a lot of children in the orphanage who looked so hungry and unhealthy. I saw around 80 children living in the orphanage with only two house-mums to take care of them all. I was shocked. I asked myself, “How can they do it? How can they take care of my daughter when there are so many children in here?”’

Then and there Sreymom made the decision to get Bormey out of the orphanage as soon as possible and swore to Bormey, “No matter how hard it is, I will take you away from this place”.

This process was not as easy as Sreymom had expected. As it had been the grandmother who took Bormey to the orphanage, it would have to be her grandmother to get Bormey out. Sreymom’s mother didn’t trust her daughter would be able to provide for Bormey and argued the orphanage was the best place for her. After some time, Sreymom’s mother agreed to get Bormey from the orphanage after Sreymom promised that she would take full responsibility for caring and providing for Bormey.

In 2016 CCT’s reintegration social worker Dalin became working alongside Sreymom to support her family with monthly food deliveries, rental assistance as well as education support for both children.

The Family Finance team began work with Sryemom to help her plan a sustainable future for her family. She started her own small business, selling street food from a cart every day. Along with her coaching in financial literacy, Sreymom was granted support from the Cash Assistance Project funded by USAID via Save the Children International. This has been an invaluable boost to her business which is now thriving.

 

The day that Bormey was told she would be returning home to live with her mother she was overjoyed.

[quote]“I felt so excited and happy. I really missed my mum and I wanted to spend all my time with her. Now that I live back at home and have enough food to eat, my mum takes care of me and I feel comfortable. I get real love from my mum.”[end quote]

For both Sreymom and Bormey, talking about the time when they were apart is deeply emotional and their bond is clear. These days Sreymom, Bormey and little brother Kimoun live together as a family. Bormey helps her mother with the housework and taking care of her younger brother, and Sreymom is always on the lookout for ways to help her children succeed in life.

The love and support Bormey receives from Sreymom is essential to her happiness. “I don’t want to be away from her again. I know she’s working really hard to support me, and I love her so much.”

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