Hagar’s community-based care program allows for clients to safely reside in their own community, with their family, in a foster home, or independently. This approach enables clients to remain better connected to their communities and promotes greater resiliency, higher levels of independence, and stronger safety networks. This story comes from a foster family partnering with the community-based care program in Battambang.
About a year ago, in Battambang, Cambodia, Sok Channy, a pastor, and his wife King Sokhorn agreed to start the journey of fostering children with Hagar. Already parents of six, with only one child still living at home, they felt as if the empty beds in their home should be filled. Sok and King started fostering two children, and soon agreed to take on two more.
Each individual foster child is spirited and unique, inspiring Sok and King daily. Both Sok and King agree that the children are amazing, especially given the unimaginable trials they have come through in their lives. Of course, fostering children doesn’t come without its challenges, as with raising children in any context. Sometimes the children are feisty, and they don’t always abide by the house rules. For Sok and King, however, perseverance comes from the joy of the journey, as they watch their foster children develop into kind and respectful individuals. Until about a month ago, their eldest foster daughter refused to do her chores and often removed herself from the other children. The change they’ve seen in her recently is remarkable: she has softened, helping their youngest with his homework and working alongside him as he does the dishes. She is incredibly bright and entrepreneurial – at 17 years old, she is already so good at English that she offers lessons to those in her community for a small fee. Sok and King have committed to walking alongside her, joining her in a journey of empowerment and assuring her that they are deeply proud of her.
Taking children in from extended family is not a foreign concept in Cambodia, but becoming responsible for children who are not related to you is. Sok and King, however, think the idea is brilliant: “I can’t imagine [the children] being in an orphanage, and not being given the opportunities they have here, as they receive Hagar support with counselling and case management monthly, all while being in the heart of a family unit. I really approve of this programme and Hagar’s work, and have encouraged other members of our community to apply,” shares Sok. Hagar screens potential foster parents to ensure that they will provide a safe and nurturing home for clients, which is how parents like Sok and King are selected. Hagar also provides extensive training to foster parents, designed to equip care-givers with resources and offer insight into the unique needs of children who have been traumatized. These trainings also provide information on the other programs that Hagar runs, inviting foster parents to become partners in each foster child’s whole journey.
Despite the challenges of parenthood, Sok insists that welcoming Hagar’s clients into their home has been a source of abundant joy. Sok believes that we ought to love others how we want to be loved. “Nothing but happiness comes from that,” says Sok. Indeed, Sok and King agree that becoming foster parents has not only brought more happiness into their home, but more children to love as their own.