A loving couple, Plong Sopheap and her husband, Sokhom have two biological children – a daughter and a son. Plong, a housewife, cooks and looks after the children, spending time and caring for them. Sokhom wears a few hats – a church deacon, a NGO staff, a construction worker and most importantly, a loving father to his many children. Having endured much hardships during the Khmer Rouge regime, and being separated from his parents and eight brothers by war, Sokhom decided he would never want to see a child left alone and hurting. That sparked his passion to provide a loving home to vulnerable children, and has received specialised training to manage children with backgrounds of trauma and abuse.
“I heard about Hagar’s foster family programme from my neighbour in the village who works with Hagar. Immediately, I felt compelled to help these children,” said Sokhom.
Having lost five of their own children after a few days when they were born, Plong and her husband, Sokhom loved welcoming more children into their family, even if it comes at a heavy cost. Out of the 13 children they have fostered since 2007, two have learning and physical disabilities; one suffers from cerebral palsy, and the other is autistic with a mental age of a 7-year-old even though she is 19 years old. “They stay and clean the dishes with me, one sweeps the courtyard while the other cleans the bedrooms and makes the beds. They enjoy washing their clothes with me and are always smiling and happy,” the contented mother quipped.
Out of his love for his foster children, Sokhom saved up money over the years and expanded his house to build more rooms and cemented the mud floors so the children will live more comfortably.
Plong shares that it is refreshing to see her children do well in school and have ambitious dreams.. The youngest of her foster children aspires to be a doctor in the future. At a tender age of eight years old, she promised the couple that she will return to take care of them in the future. Plong and Sokhom look forward to their foster children returning to them even after they have left their side. To the couple, they do not yearn for any rewards. Happiness is as simple as seeing their foster children live well and returning home for dinner during the Khmer New Year celebrations.
Being integrated into a safe and loving family environment is vital to the recovery of exploited children. Foster parents like Plong and Sokhom play a critical role in empowering their future. There are many children who are still waiting to be reintegrated back into their communities or are waiting for foster families who would accept them. Today, help a survivor find a safe dwelling place with these gifts.