When our social workers first met 12-year-old Veasna* he was living with his mother in a make-shift shack near the beach built from discarded pieces of plastic and wood. The situation was dire. The environment was unhealthy and unsafe. Veasna’s mother, 35-year-old Champa*, was using drugs (ice) regularly. Veasna, a bright outgoing boy, had never been to school before. Every night was up late, trying to make money by selling flowerers to tourists on the beach and to customers at entertainment venues.
Over the course of a few months, our team slowly built up a relationship with Veasna and his mother, little by little building trust and learning more about their history. We learned that they were originally from Phnom Penh, but moved to Sihanoukville after Champa divorced from her husband. Champa has two older children that live with their father and she has no relationship with them any longer. After moving to Sihanoukville with Veasna in hopes of building a better life, Champa did find unskilled work, but when other personal problems arose, Champa began to use alcohol and drugs more and more as a way to deal with her pain and sadness. Her growing addictions resulted in her losing her job and the place they had been living at. That is when they moved to living in squalor on the beach and spending more time with other drug users.
Like most of the individuals our Drugs team meets, Champa was not ready to enter Pteah Romchang, MT’s Detox and Rehab Center, when they first met her, but our staff continued to meet with her and her son frequently, providing information and counselling, food support, and medical care.
In June, 2020, after about 6 months since first meeting our team, Champa decided to enter the detox program. She and her son moved into the center, Champa receiving in-house services from our Drugs and Alcohol team and Veasna starting to attend classes at our Education Center. The two of them lived at Pteah Romchang for about four months while Champa was in treatment. In October 2020 after successfully completing the detox and rehab program. Soon after, they moved out to live in a small rental room in a safe location and Champa found work as a cleaner in a local hotel. Veasna is continuing to attend classes at MT’s Education Center (expect for the period when classes were suspended due to Covid-19).
Leaving Pteah Romchang is not the end MT’s rehab. Our teams are continuing to follow up regularly with Champa and Veasna at their new home, providing any additional support they may need.
*Names changed for confidentiality