Working to Bring Families Back Together

Written by
Khiev Mom
Published on
May 22, 2024 at 3:47:53 PM PDT May 22, 2024 at 3:47:53 PM PDTnd, May 22, 2024 at 3:47:53 PM PDT

Story and photos collected by Lan Saroun and Chhay Sophanna.

Despite her family responsibilities, Sara is a dedicated community volunteer who demonstrates her nature through serving her community. She showcases a selfless mindset that positively impacts others.

The strain of separation

When Sara’s siblings migrated to Thailand for work, the responsibility of raising their four children fell to her and her mother. She’s only 20 years old, yet finds herself caring for nieces and a nephew ranging in age from seven to 10.

Their community in Chong Kal is small with just 234 households and a population of 1,067 individuals, most of whom are farmers who grow rice, cassava, and vegetables. Sara’s mother is fortunate to have found additional work as an assistant chef at weddings and other special events.

In this rural life, job opportunities like that are scarce, forcing many like Sara’s siblings to migrate for work. This is hard on their children and puts strain on family members.

“Sometimes, I experienced stress because my siblings did not live with me and my mother. They rely on us to take care of their children. I saw my nieces and nephews feeling isolated, discontent, and stressed so that they avoided social interactions. They felt hopeless and lacked direction in life.”— Sara

Too many children in Chong Kal live this daily reality of separation from their parents. These children often drop out of school due to lack of supervision and encouragement. The pressure of their absence is hard on everyone in the family.

Sara shares, “I am an introverted person who found it challenging to engage with others in my community. I tended to avoid meeting new people because I felt anxious in such circumstances.”

Finding support and a new purpose.

In August 2023, Sara started volunteering with an FH-initiated group that is working with children in the community. She received training that covered a wide range of topics including facilitation skills, child rights, handwashing, safeguarding, and goal setting. During her child sponsorship training, she learned how to engage with parents to enrol their children in the program and organize meetings.

These opportunities to step into a leadership and service role in her community filled Sara with newfound confidence. She began to enjoy working with children and the skills she gained helped her provide better care for her nieces and nephew.

Sara uses her leadership skills to teach the children in the community along with her nieces and nephew!

“I’ve noticed that Sara actively participates in FH activities and shows kindness,” Lam Saroun, an FH staff member, observes. “She plays a crucial role as an agent of change for her community by fostering relationships with caregivers, parents, and children through child sponsorship. I’ve watched her gain confidence and improve her social skills in communicating and raising awareness within the community.”

In addition to helping facilitate the practical aspects of child sponsorship, Sara has also worked with the village chief to raise awareness among families about domestic violence and the importance of safe migration, among other topics.

“Today, I am more confident than ever when interacting with others,” Sara smiles. “I am filled with happiness and a sense of personal growth as I continue to improve myself.”

Sara has caught the vision for what a flourishing Chong Kal could look like! She’s dedicating her time and energy to build a community where there are local job opportunities for people like her siblings, and to create a nurturing environment where children can live with their parents, “surrounded by affection and care.”

“I want my family and community to get stable employment and improve their standard of living without the need to move elsewhere, enabling them to experience joy and contentment with their dear ones,” she says.

You can help more young people like Sara create a new future for their families by joining Journey Partners and becoming a monthly supporter of transformation.

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