Foster Care at Hagar

foster family-graphic-final

Four foster boys arrived late November 2015 to a family of four (mother, father, and two biological sons).

The four foster boys range from 16 to 18 years old. The male client that we interviewed (referred to as Pisey) arrived in November 2015 along with three other clients. At first, Hagar struggled to place them in a family who would take all four together – this has large financial implications and a lot of emotional strength from any chosen foster family. The reason behind them wanting to stay together was because they had previously been placed in a family as one unit of four during their placement within another NGO who referred them to Hagar. They felt connected as brothers and requested not to be separated.

They have two sons. One of them is 21 years old and has just graduated as a policeman, working 30 minutes away from home. He is wanting to pursue a masters in Law. He is a very well-rounded man and a great brother to his biological brother and 4 current foster brothers.

The foster father is a retired pastor, now organic farmer (supplies the village with pork meat, fish and bamboo shoots). He himself was orphaned at a young age so has always had compassion for parentless children who needed a safe place.

“When I was young, I didn’t know what it was like to have a family. I was separated from my parents during the Khmer Rouge regime and grew up without a sense of belonging. I feel empathy towards children who have been through a challenging start in life. My heart breaks for them because they cannot be close to their parents, siblings and friends.”

“Over the years as foster parents, we have fostered in total over 100 children- we were partnering with another NGO until we recently started fostering Hagar clients. It is such a joy to welcome these children into our home, and see them come out of their shell as they interact with our two biological sons, and the community.” – Father

“I am happy to be a role model to these 4 new brothers. I know what my father went through as a child, and so as a family, we want to provide a safe place and a family setting to help other kids who don’t have that. I love having more boys around the house. When I come back from work, I change into sports clothes and we go down to the church courtyard to play football. During the day, I help people as a policeman. My day job allows communities to strengthen.  And then when I come home, I can do my part in building the lives of my foster brothers again. I help them with their homework, and we just simply live happily alongside one other. I feel blessed I can play a part in their lives. We don’t ever talk about their previous situation because we don’t need to. It’s about building them up to become good decent men.” – Older brother

The mother works as a primary school teacher at the village school. She also helps run Sunday school at the local church.

“I feel as I we have been given an incredible gift to welcome these boys and help them grow. It isn’t a burden to have them in our home. Yes, financially it does stretch us. We receive compensation from Hagar but there are always additional fees to cover, especially with 4 extra boys in the house. But I don’t see this as a problem. It’s a real blessing. And recently, I was amazed. During International Women’s day, the boys got together and cooked for me without me even asking anything. Throughout the day, they just filled my heart with joy displaying true gentlemanly manners. I wasn’t allowed to do any chores- I believe my husband must have orchestrated some of the initiatives. I have witnessed them coming out of their shell in the past 6 months that they have been with us. And to see them interact with my own two sons is wonderful. I know that they are not here permanently, but that’s a good thing. We understand it is transitional living and that we will say goodbye to them soon.

“Yes, there have been challenges along the way, and I remember feeling close to desperation with a few of the previous clients we have fostered. Theft, money issues, but our role is to empower and educate. And so we will continue to foster other children when these boys leave.” – Mother

The foster client interviewed: Pisey is 17 years old and loves it here. He especially loves working with his foster father around the farm, and playing football with all the boys and village friends in the church yard after school.

“When I’m here, I feel safe. I don’t worry about what happened to me in the past. If I am just 5 minutes late from coming back from school, I know that Dad (foster father) will be out on the pathway looking for me and my brothers (foster brothers). It’s only ever actually happened twice that Dad’s had to come looking for one of us. It’s a safe haven here.

“I love this house. There are rules and order to things. Mom has told us everything is available for use apart from a very few items in the safe which are private to her and dad. They trust us. This amazes me.

“There is a list of rules on the wall on how to be a family, how adults should talk to children, and how children should talk to parents. These are up on the wall on a flipchart (provided by Hagar) and helps educate us all on how mutual respect around the house.

“My favorite thing to do is to help around the farm. Looking after the animals and watering/ feeding the pigs.” – Pisey

The parents are very proud of how far the four foster boys have come since they joined. It wasn’t easy at first, they were not just shy, they were closed up to receiving love from the family. But the foster father and older brother especially are great role models, and over a few months, the four boys are now really showing signs of personal character growth.

Pisey knows that this is a family temporary and that one day he will move on, but he loves the family dearly and doesn’t want to be anywhere else.