On January 15, 2012 I witnessed a mother give away her eight year old daughter. Many of you may remember Songkum. Songkum is a beautiful eight year old girl. Her laugh is contagious and her smile even more so. We came to find out that her mother wanted to sell her and sell her fast. She was raising Songkum who is eight and has cerebral palsy and Songkums three year old brother Samnang on the streets of Phnom Penh. The mother would collect trash all day to earn a living while she left her two children alone; either inside a Buddhist temple or outside on the street side walk. We were able to build a relationship with them and we began to bring them into Sparrow’s Nest. (Picture is of me and the kids arriving at Sparrow’s Nest after our morning walk into work. Picture taken around November 2011.) After arriving home from Christmas break we found out that Samnang was gone. He had been sent to an orphanage and the mother was at her last straw with taking care of Songkum. After contacting over a dozen different homes and orphanages, we finally found an organization, Bykota House ran by Mark and Rhonda, that would take her. Not only raise and educate her, but all done in a Christan home setting.
Starting a few months ago the mother began to contact us asking when she could go see her daughter. Bykota House wanted to wait about four months. This would give transition time for Songkum. On Friday the 20th we were able to take the mom to Songkum. Once again it was an experience that I could not have prepared myself for. Although this experience was a bit easier to witness than the signing over of a child it was still emotional.
We got to The Bykota House and Songkum looked so happy and healthy. She was handed directly over to her mother. Songkum took a few seconds examining the woman holding her and than eventually said, Ma? She then hugged and snuggled with her mother. We went into a conference room and watched as Songkum and her mom played with one another. (Picture is of them sitting and playing with each other.) While they were preoccupied with one another I chatted with Rhonda. She told me about the abscess in Songkum’s mouth. I did realize that although she has gotten longer she hadn’t put on as much weight as I though she would have. She has been having a difficult time eating due to her mouth issues.
Songkum’s mom left the room for a few minuets and I was able to get on the floor and finally say hi. I leaned over and talked with this little girl that I have missed so much. Normally our conversations consisted of her saying, duck, which means water. But during this conversation, although I couldn’t understand all her words, she spoke in what seemed like complete sentences. She has learned so much. I was told that she loves playing learning games on the computer. But when she plays she has to have some one helping control her body because she gets so excited the swings her body all over the place. (Picture is of her playing.)
After about an hour or so the mother seemed ready to leave. We said our goodbyes and Songkum seemed to handle seeing her mother wonderfully. I am so grateful for the ministry of The Bykota House. Mark and Rhonda are faithful servants of Christ and they are helping raise abandoned Cambodian children to love Jesus Christ.
Songkum needs work done on her teeth. Probably about $400 worth of work. We need your help. Her entire mouth is rotten and will need extreme work done. Bykota House sends their kids to a reputable dental clinic; well trained staff and a clean working environment. (I know this is expected in the States, but for Cambodia it’s worth mentioning.) Please visit http://www.bykotahouse.org/ to check out The Bykota House. From the home page you can click "Dental Visit" on the bottom of the home page. From there continue to donate. From the home page you can go to "Contact Us" and send an email to The Bykota House if you would like to notify them of your donation. Songkum is the only emergency dental work right now so the money will go to her.
Please contact me if you have any questions. I know it is a little odd donating money to an organization that you do not personally know. I will keep in direct communication with Rhonda and make sure all proceeds to go help Songkum.