On October 3rd Little Hearts welcomed two new residents: Raphael and his sister Naomi. Both are approximately 9–11 years old (as they lack birth certificates, we cannot be certain of their age).
Like many of the children who come to us, Raphael and Naomi have endured a difficult start to life. When their mother passed away several years ago, Naomi went to live with a foster mother. Raphael stayed behind with his alcoholic father and suffered from neglect and frequent physical abuse. He never received any schooling and was at times sent out to beg on the streets.
Their first day at Little Hearts was no doubt overwhelming as they came to terms with their new surroundings and were introduced to more than thirty new siblings. Naomi speaks a little English already and knows basic household behaviour, like taking a shower, folding her clothes, and doing simple chores. She has already established herself as a leader among the girls in her age group, though she can be overly rambunctious when playing – something that needs to be addressed. She already has a best friend in Maya.
As Raphael has never attended school, he knows no English and struggles with correct Khmer speech as well. He will need extra support from everyone to start his studies from scratch and develop proper social skills. Meanwhile, he is happy to be here and gets along well with the boys in his age group. He seems to have bonded especially with Vandeth.
‘There’s a lot that these kids need to learn, and their behaviour will need adjustment,’ says Roxanne. ‘But it’s going to be okay. We’re here to teach and guide them, and help them build a better life.’
But first things first. A few days after arriving, Raphael and Naomi were taken to Intercare Medical Center, our healthcare partner, for a thorough check-up, including blood tests. Both kids seem to be in relatively good health despite their tribulations, aside from skin rashes and minor infections that can be treated easily.
‘Knowing where these kids have come from and what they’ve been through is heart-breaking,’ says Tony. ‘Now they finally have a home, and they can look forward to an education and a bright future. This is why we started Little Hearts back in 2009, and why I keep doing what I’m doing.’
‘In moments like this, I feel so honoured to be a part of Little Hearts,’ adds Phannarin, our new general manager. ‘To be able to help two vulnerable children and give them a fresh start and a smile… it’s quite special.’