Heather E. Connell
“In 2009, I met a remarkable little boy named Sumnamg while working on a media project in Siem Reap. Sumnamg had Cerebral Palsy and was confined to a bed, unable to move on his own or communicate his needs. The idea for Safe Haven was inspired by my relationship with Sumnamg and a desire to be able to provide him access to the medical and therapeutic resources he needed to improve his quality of life. I’m so thankful for my dedicated staff who have worked to help build Safe Haven Medical Outreach from the ground up. We are a small non profit, but we believe we can have a big impact in the lives of our kids and their families. Keeping families together and working with parents to help educate them about their child’s condition and make them active participants in their therapy/care is a huge part of the work that we do. I’m inspired and amazed by our Safe Haven kids and grateful to be able to oversee this project as we continue to grow as an organization.”
In Country Director/Nursing Supervisor
“It has been a pleasure and a challenge to take on the role of Safe Haven Country Director in early 2014. As an organization, we have grown and matured, with clearer-than-ever goals for children and families and more collaborative and coordinated strategies for meeting those goals. Staff skills continue to develop in their areas of concentration, such as social work and physiotherapy, and we have also focused on expanding their skills in the areas of child development, communication, and understanding of early intervention. I am immensely proud of Safe Haven’s development as an organization, and staff’s dedication to the families we serve.
I know that many children have now had medical care and intervention (including surgery) who would not have without Safe Haven’s help. More families have access to clean drinking water – which is such a basic need in terms of preventing many illnesses. More children have seen a doctor and/or dentist, are taking medications safely and appropriately, are getting vitamins and supplemental nutrition; more parents understand their child’s health problems, and more families are using toothbrushes. Maybe just as importantly, more families are no longer alone and feeling helpless about their child’s medical condition, as they know that Safe Haven is their ally and advocate in getting the best possible care for their children.”
“I took the position as physiotherapist with Safe Haven so I could gain more experience working with children with disabilities. Using physical therapy helps to strengthen their bodies and make them healthier. Safe Haven provides many opportunities to children that they did not have before. Prior to Safe Haven, I worked as a physiotherapist with Handicap International for seven years.”
Occupational Therapist/Volunteer with OMF
“I qualified as an occupational therapist in 2000, and worked for 7 years in the UK, mainly with adults with neurological conditions. I always had the dream of working in a developing country, which was fulfilled when I arrived, with my family, in Cambodia in 2007. There is no OT training available in Cambodia, so there is a great need for OTs to come to work and train others. I spent a number of years working in several different projects in Phnom Penh, and ended up working far more with children than with adults, as I had originally intended.
When I came to Siem Reap, I found Safe Haven, which has been a great opportunity to use my skills. I love working in a team with different professions and talents, who are all dedicated to improving the health, ability, and quality of life of children with disabilities and their families.”
“My name is Sopheary and I am working for Safe Haven as Rehabilitation Assistance. I really like and so happy to do that because my job is amazing, my work teach me how to help them with physical therapy and occupational therapy and I can see our children progress and see the happiness in their family. It’s a great job that I can help children with disabilities in my country to encourage them and tell them that I love them, they’re not alone anymore.
I don’t have money or other things to donate to my organization, but I can donate my hard work, my love, my heart. I want to help them improve the future of children.
I love my work so much and I hope can work for Safe Haven for long time.”
I graduated from Royal University of Phnom Penh in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. After graduation, I worked for the Lotus Kids Club project in Siem Reap as a social worker, following up with children at preschool and public school and supporting families to send their children to school.
I started working at Safe Haven in January 2016. I am proud to serve the communities, children with disabilities, and families living in poverty, and to help children get the same opportunities as other children. I want to help parents understand that their children with disabilities can have the same abilities, rights, and opportunities as other children. I have been impacted by the work I do at Safe Haven and I hope to inspire others to change their perceptions of disability as well.
I studied to be a nurse and midwife, and after I graduated, I worked as a school nurse in a preschool and primary school for two years. I came to work to at Safe Haven because I’m ready for a new experience.
My job with children with disabilities is very interesting to me because it is my first time to do this kind of work and I am learning a lot about disabilities. I will use all my experience and knowledge to help these children and their families to be healthy. I will educate them about health and hygiene because I believe that education is the key to change.