Sad story but a happy ending…
“Sochin” (name changed) was born into poverty in Takeo province. His father had left the family when the boy was very young, leaving his mother and grandmother. Sochin never attended school and instead, from a young age, worked on a farm. Sometimes he would resort to stealing a village chickens or duck to sell and get the money to buy the rice to support his family.
When Sochin was 12 years old he and his single parent mother moved to Sihanoukville in order for her to find a job. The grandmother did not know where they went. When they arrived Sihanoukville Sochin and his mother did not have a place to stay, they slept at the edge of the shop in the market at night time and in the day time they walked on the beach and collected the waste and recyclables. The mother started to try to earn a little bit of money by selling squid on the beaches to local and tourists.
After three months of this living like this, Sochin’s mother met a man and she were moved to live in another province with him, leaving 12 year old Sochin by himself, alone in Sihanoukville. During this time he would scavenge, beg and sometimes steal to get by.
Sochin was living and fending for himself for about one month when M’Lop Tapang’s Outreach Team met him. After meeting Sochin and assessing the situation, the Outreach Team arranged for the young boy to stay at M’Lop Tapang’s Boys Night Shelter and introduced him to the education programs, counseling and other programs. A designated Social Worker continued to investigate and look for Sochin’s family. Sochin stayed with M’Lop Tapang for about 2 years. A very bright child he excelled in school and reached the grade 5 level at M’Lop Tapang’s center.
Last month Sochin, now 14 years old, was reintegrated back to live with his grandmother, who now works at a local pagado, has the resources to take care of Sochin and is very happy to be back with her grandson. Sochin is now studying in grade 6 at a public school. When he is not in school Sochin has planted corn, beans, ridge gourd, egg plants that he sells to support his studies and his family. The Outreach Team will continue to follow up with Sochin and his grandmother to ensure that the reintegration was successful.