Stories of Hope: Jennifer
Earlier this year, as we began COVID emergency food distributions along the Cambodian border with Thailand, we met a young widow named Elva. Her husband had been killed just a few weeks before as he stepped on a land mine while trying to cross the border to find food for his family. Elva was left with 8 small children in her care, including Baby Jennifer.
With no income and no home of their own, our team found them living in a temporary tent shelter, exposed to the elements. Wrapped in a red piece of cloth, Baby Jennifer was clearly in need of urgent nutritional support.
We were all so concerned about this vulnerable family. Skinny and malnourished, Baby Jennifer wasn’t active at all and had no energy. Her mom said that her baby rarely smiled and cried much of the day from hunger.
We knew we had to step forward to help this family to give the children a new start following the tragic death of their father. In order to best track their development, we spoke with mom Elva to see if she would be interested in moving to one of the villages where LWB has ongoing programs. She agreed, and soon after, our LWB tuk-tuk driver went to pick up a load of her family’s meager possessions from the border region.
We had a very special surprise in store for this still-grieving family.
Thanks to LWB supporters, we were able to build Elva and her children a safe home of their very own in Sokhem Village. When Elva heard the news, she broke down crying and expressed her deep gratitude to everyone who sent love and support for her family. The kids told us they were excited to not have to sleep on the ground any longer and to have a home that’s clean and (most importantly) dry!
The older children shared with us that they had always dreamed of someday getting to go to school. The wonderful part about their relocation to Sokhem Village is that our Education program here serves children from infancy through primary school. All of Elva’s children were immediately enrolled in our classes, and it was a proud and special day when they finally received their very first school uniforms.
Baby Jennifer got to enroll officially in LWB school as well — at our Sokhem Early Childhood Development Center. This special facility provides not only infant and toddler fun and stimulation but also critical nutrition in a village where more than 3 out of 4 children were stunted from lack of food. Little Jennifer had ready access to lots and LOTS of nutritious formula, and everything about her health and demeanor soon changed.
Now at nine months of age, Jennifer is trying to stand on her own and even take a few tentative steps. She loves coming to school each day and interacts well with her teachers. We’ve even discovered that she has quite the adventurous streak!
Now, Jennifer rarely cries and instead smiles at everyone she meets. Her health is being closely monitored by our medic. Each time we look at this now vibrant baby girl, we lift up thanks.
As for Jennifer’s mama Elva…LWB was able to hire her as a nanny at our Early Child Development Center, so she now has a steady job and the resources to provide food for her family. She loves her work helping to feed and bathe the children in the program and making sure they are warm and safe during naptime. (As a mom of 5 and caregiver for her niece and nephews, Elva is an expert with babies!) And of course, she loves knowing that her own baby girl, Jennifer, is getting all the care and attention she needs to thrive.
We are just so grateful that our Cambodia team came upon this family while delivering emergency food to those severely impacted by COVID-19. For Baby Jennifer and her older siblings, gone are the days of the unprotected tent and deep, gnawing hunger. Instead, theirs is another powerful Story of Hope, made possible once again by this LWB community.