What we do
Every day presents a new set of challenges and possibilities for our dedicated team… the one thing we can always be sure of is that there’s no such thing as a ‘typical’ day at Safe Haven!
Having said that, we often get asked what working with children with disabilities and medical issues looks like in Cambodia, and how it is that we do what we do.
To help give you a better picture, we’ve put together a list of some of our most common tasks and responsibilities.
We hope our list gives you a clearer understanding of our work. Please contact us if have any questions about what we do.
Supporting children at home
We visit children and families at home to ensure that we provide support that is culturally appropriate and suitable for their life style, needs and home environment. We also call families in between home visits to follow up and check on their progress and health status.
We provide physical therapy and teach parents how to do exercises and activities that will improve their child’s strength, range of motion and functioning, and occupational therapy to improve their fine motor skills and function.
We provide nutritional supplements (infant formula and soy milk) to children with swallowing and feeding difficulties, who are often suffering from severe malnutrition and protein deficiency due to their inability to eat normally. We also facilitate visits from speech therapists to assess feeding and communication difficulties. We weigh and measure children to monitor growth, and discuss nutrition with their parents.
We provide basic health assessments and simple medications to treat minor illness and injuries, for children and their parents. We teach parents how to use a thermometer and how to treat a fever.
We educate parents about avoiding traditional healing practices that may be harmful, while trying to be respectful of culture.
We teach families, neighbours and friends that despite their disability, their child can learn. We educate parents about the value of stimulation and verbal interaction. We provide toys to encourage fine and gross motor skills and cognitive skills. We demonstrate how to play with their children and encourage their efforts to do the same. We encourage siblings to join in and help them feel included in our visits.
We teach about child development, why children do what they do and how parents can encourage the best of that behavior.
We answer their questions, showing them that we care and that their children are worth our time and attention.
When a child is ready for discharge from Safe Haven and will attend school, we provide a backpack and school supplies and a uniform, and sometimes a bicycle.
Advocating for medical treatment and ongoing support
We pay for transportation for families to bring their children to the hospital, the dentist or the rehabilitation center. We accompany families on all of their medical appointments to explain what is happening and help them understand more about their child’s condition. We also make sure they know how to give medicine appropriately, when they need to return for follow-up, and what to do if their child’s condition changes.
We advocate for children and families at the local hospital. We show that it’s OK to ask questions of doctors, and we ask questions on the family’s behalf when they’re not comfortable doing so themselves. We consult with doctors in person and by email. We visit daily when a child is hospitalized. We provide follow-up care at home.
We provide money to cover the cost of food when a child is hospitalized, as hospitals here cannot provide meals to children or their family members who must stay with them at all times.
We bring children and their families to the local rehab center to get wheelchairs or walkers or prosthetics, and bring them back when their equipment needs repair or replacement. We bring children to the hearing center for evaluations, encourage them to wear their hearing aids
We facilitate assessments or treatment at hospitals in Phnom Penh when local treatment is not available.
Preventative health and hygiene
We try to improve the overall health of our families by providing water filters and teaching them how to use and maintain them properly. We teach tooth brushing and provide toothbrushes and toothpaste as well as vitamins and de-worming medications. We teach about hygiene and its relationship to health.
We encourage families to vaccinate their children at their local health center.
We monitor and educate about safety at home in an environment that includes open fires, unrestricted access to machetes, open water, and animals roaming the village.
Sharing our work
We take photos to post – with parents’ permission – to raise awareness about Safe Haven. We give copies of photos to families; some of whom may not have any photos of their children.
We keep a wish list of useful donations and then provide much-needed items to families when available.
We share our achievements and successes as well as lessons we’ve learnt with our supporters, as well as partners in the local community.
Most important of all…
We let families know that there are other families out there with children just like theirs.
We talk to parents about how they’re feeling, what they worry about, what the future might hold, what decisions they might face.
We smile and laugh and play with their children and remark on how beautiful they are. We notice aloud how hard the parents are working to help their children and what a difference it makes.
If you believe in our approach and would like to support our work, please consider making a tax deductible donation to help us keep the Safe Haven Medical Outreach Program running.
View our Annual Report here