Conversation with Mother’s Heart

Conversation with Mother’s Heart

In a typical year, First Hand volunteers eagerly travel to Cambodia on service trips to meet with our partners at Damnoek Toek and Mother’s Heart. But 2021 is still not a typical year! Instead of a physical trip, on March 5, many of our volunteers participated in a Zoom call with Mother’s Heart. Sidana Touch (Country Director), Zarah Jane Rushworth (Communications and Donor Relations) and Somphors Seong (Director for Client Services) took time to explain Mother’s Heart’s mission, the organization’s impact and the Covid-related challenges they currently face. Mother’s Heart’s Mission Mother’s Heart began in 2010 as Cambodia’s first crisis pregnancy organization. Their mission is to: Empower, equip and educate women facing crisis pregnancies and their families through counselling, support services, medical care and community involvement so they can choose the best future for themselves and their babies. Today, Mother’s Heart has helped over 304 women in their pregnancy support program and is the only crisis pregnancy organization in Cambodia. Need Sidana shared some startling statistics that illustrate the need for Mother’s Heart’s services. 28% of women in their program are underaged or minors. 54% of the pregnancies they deal with are a result of rape, incest, entertainment (prostitution) or trafficking. It costs $2,700 (US dollars) to cover all the costs for one woman and her child in their pregnancy support program. Impact Mother’s Heart offers 3 programs to support a woman through her crisis pregnancy and beyond: Pregnancy Support Program (PSP) Alternative Care (kinship care, temporary foster care, permanent foster care) Abortion (Mother’s Heart refers women to a reputable clinic that legally and safely performs abortion) The Pregnancy...
💙 First Hand supporters are invited to attend our AGM

💙 First Hand supporters are invited to attend our AGM

Notice is hereby given of the 2021 Annual General Meeting of First Hand. We will elect new office bearers and discuss plans for the coming year. The meeting will take place 25 March 2021 at 7:30 pm via teleconference. We invite all members to submit any questions they may have which can be discussed, and will be documented in the minutes. We would love to see you, so please contact us if you can participate and we will send the link. photo by...
Virtual Meet Up with Damnok Toek

Virtual Meet Up with Damnok Toek

On the 15th of January, our First Hand Members joined the yearly kick-off meeting with our Cambodian partner Damnok Toek (DT). It was a fantastic opportunity to  gain insights about the work of the organization in these challenging covid 19 times and how they use the money we transferred from our charity event “A Heart for Cambodia” in November 2020. Damnok Toek’s Purpose The 3 representatives from DT first introduced the organization for our new members. They explained that DT is a local NGO founded in 1997 which serves the most marginalized and at risk children and youth in Cambodia. It enables vulnerable children to have all of their basic needs met and their rights respected. Therefore, they focus on children who are victims of trafficking, street working or street living, physical or intellectual disabilities, and any kind of exploitation or abuse. DT takes care of around 3,500 marginalised children each year in the cities of Phnom Penh, Poipet and Neak Loeung. In Poipet, on the border with Thailand, DT runs various drop-in centres in which approximately 750 children, who live and work on the street, find refuge. Most of those kids keep themselves and their families afloat – by carrying heavy loads, collecting waste, as beggars or, in the worst case, as child prostitutes. In the drop-in centres, the children can recover from the strains of their work. They are given a hot meal and can have a shower. Thanks to DT they have a chance to access safe shelter care, medical care, counselling and education.  In Phnom Penh, DT opened a centre for children with physical and/or...
A Heart For Cambodia Fundraiser Raises $54,830 Despite Covid Challenges!

A Heart For Cambodia Fundraiser Raises $54,830 Despite Covid Challenges!

  2020 posed some unique challenges for fundraisers, but that didn’t stop the volunteers of First Hand from throwing a great party. Instead of one large gala, this year’s event moved to 37 homes across the island. Each host invited up to 5 guests (as per Singapore Covid guidelines) and each host even had their own safe entry code. Running an event across 37 locations required serious organizational skills, but this year the fundraiser had special importance. Some of Cambodia’s most vulnerable women and children have been seriously affected by Covid restrictions. First Hand wanted to continue to offer support to their partner organizations in Cambodia (Damnok Teok and Mother’s Heart) during this difficult time.   A team of volunteers drove around Singapore, delivering everything hosts needed to create a gala experience at home. Along with table decorations, balloons and beautifully arranged flowers from Dan Takeda Flower and Design, hosts received a delicious Greek food package from Blu Kouzina Restaurant. TTG Wines provided specially selected sparkling, red and white wines.   Guests were asked to dress in red or blue – the colours of the Cambodian flag. Finally, after months of planning, an amazing 217 tickets had been sold to the event and the stage was set for a fun evening in support of Cambodian women and children.   Despite being physically separated, all 37 homes connected through Zoom (thanks to Michael at iClub) for a full evening of entertainment. Scott Mitchell, from Mad About Comedy, hosted a fun and lively event that included an intense Trivia challenge and a great live auction with some heated bidding.   The live auction...

Annual Report 2020

Due to the sad Covid-19 situation, it was decided to hold our Annual General Meeting (AGM) on March 24th as a teleconference in order to protect our community and our volunteers. This was the first time we had held our AGM this way, and was interesting for all attending! We had asked any members to email us with any questions to be discussed at the AGM prior to the meeting. Our president, Claire Graham, presented the Annual Report 2019 for fourteen office bearers and volunteers. She was very happy to share that First Hand had been able to raise nearly SG$85,000 to support our two beneficiaries, Damnok Toek and Mother’s Heart. This is with huge thanks to the hard work of our volunteers and the generosity of our sponsors and supporters. Sadly Annette Harling has had to step down as Vice-President due to relocating back to Europe – she will be hugely missed. However, we are delighted that Sandra Pineda has been elected as the new Vice President – congratulations to Sandra! Our fundraising strategy for coming year was discussed and many great ideas were tabled. We will need to adapt this year with the global challenges arising from COVID-19. Whilst we are aware of the impact this will have on our options for fundraising, we all remain committed to raise as much as possible for Damnok Toek and Mother’s Heart. Both charities in Cambodia have been hugely impacted by COVID, and therefore need our support more than ever. Please follow this link to read the Annual Report in full....

Service Trip to Mother’s Heart, Jan 2020

By Sandra Pineda Before going to visit Mother’s Heart, all our volunteers in Singapore helped us to collect donations of maternity clothes, bottles for babies, breast pumps, baby clothes, and nappies. We are extremely grateful to all our friends and supporters that donated these items. We managed to put together more than 100 kgs of donations.       After receiving the Certificate of Clearance emitted by the Singaporean police, Evelyn Abbot, Karin Hesse and I were ready to go to our journey. On the day that we arrived in Phnom Penh, Sam Sophun, our very kind guide, was already waiting for us and of course the donations. On the first day, we visited the killing fields and the S-21 prison from time of the Khmer Rouge, when more than 3 million people died of execution, forced labours, starvation and diseases. As sad and emotional as it is, we had to visit these places to understand the story, the sadness, and the fight Cambodians are living. Many of the country’s educated people died in this way, leaving a country without professionals or educated leaders. Now, knowledge is considered a tool to succeed. The second day, we brought the donations to Mother’s Heart head quarters. We did a tour around the building. The introduction room is where the women experiencing a crisis pregnancy will have their first visit. They give the options and in case the women would like to continue with the pregnancy, Mother’s Heart will facilitate the services of midwives and counsellors depending on every situation. For Mother’s Heart it is important to empower women in the decision-making....
Fundraiser Party ‘Singapore Chic’ raises $57,000!

Fundraiser Party ‘Singapore Chic’ raises $57,000!

What do you get when you take twenty women from ten countries and add one great cause?  You have what it takes to create a very successful fundraiser event to benefit some of the most vulnerable children and youth of Cambodia.   On Saturday 09 November over 170 people attended ‘Singapore Chic’ fundraiser at one of the remaining  500 “black and white” bungalows in Singapore. The “black and whites” as these houses are known, were built to house members of the military and their families during the colonial period of the early 1900s.  With its stunning gardens it formed the perfect venue for a night of feasting, music, and celebration, to raise money for First Hand. First Hand is the funding organisation, dedicated to raising and distributing money to benefit its two partners – Mother’s Heart and Damnok Toek.  Mother’s Heart’s focus is providing programs and support for young girls and women facing crisis pregnancies, often alone.  Damnok Toek provides a range of amazing programs for marginalised children and youth, many with special needs. Preparations for the fundraiser event started in March, with regular meetings held in the run up. From August, this team of resourceful women approached a number of businesses in and around Singapore and were able to secure donations of goods and services which were then auctioned off on the night.   Some of the more unique donations included a 12th century antique statue from Shang Antiques in Dempsey Hill, a stay at Teluna Island Resort and many more. Even tennis player Roger Federer signed a couple of tennis balls, which between them raised over $1200! A...
Service Trip to Damnok Toek, April 2019

Service Trip to Damnok Toek, April 2019

In April, four First Hand volunteers travelled to Poipet in Cambodia to visit the Damnok Toek on a self funded trip. Much of the money First Hand raises goes directly to this NGO which runs amazing projects supporting vulnerable families and children in Poipet for over 25 years. We are delighted to see ‘first hand’ that the funds that we raise are so well spent and to understand how we can provide further support. It is amazing that we can track each dollar raised in Singapore to where it is spent in Cambodia, and how much of a difference it makes to the lives there. The purpose of our trip was to learn more about their child-protection projects, to understand their needs and to show our engagement and commitment to raise funds to assist them. The volunteers also took over 150kgs of supplies including educational toys, sports clothing, books and school supplies. A special thank you to all our friends in Singapore who donated school supplies and clothes. These were gratefully received by the families and children. Please take a look at the Damnok Toek 2019 Trip Report kindly written by Annette Harling to find out more about the trip, and what the volunteers experienced when visiting this amazing charity in Poipet. Damnok Toek offers The Transitional Care Facility Project and Group Home Project as well as The Reception Centre Project. The main goal is to reunite and reintegrate the often traumatized children with their families. Our intense trip was a life changing experience with massive impressions – although it can seem hopeless, it is so rewarding to learn that, what is...
First Hand Service Trip to Mother’s Heart and Damnok Toek November 2018

First Hand Service Trip to Mother’s Heart and Damnok Toek November 2018

Service Trip Report by Melita Gerber, First Hand Volunteer. Trip dates: 5th – 10th November 2018 Service Trip Participants: Tanaz Byramjee, Gitte Faldmo, Melita Gerber and Annette Woschek. Service trips are an important part of First Hand’s programmes as they offer the opportunity to meet our partner organizations face-to-face to get a deeper insight into their work, to check on the projects we support and to be inspired to be their advocates on our return to Singapore. This trip we visited both Mother’s Heart and Damnok Toek, our two partners in Cambodia. Firstly we met Emily Scott, who is the country director of Mother’s Heart, and her enthusiastic team of social workers at the head office in Phnom Penh. A big THANK YOU goes to all our generous supporters in Singapore for the suitcases full of baby equipment that we delivered. Mother’s Heart is the first, and currently only, crisis pregnancy centre in Cambodia. It started off with a pilot project in 2010. Currently there are two main programs offered by Mother’s Heart to women who find themselves in crisis pregnancies: Crisis Pregnancy Counseling: it enables every woman to make informed decisions about their options e.g. parenting, alternative care, legal abortion, etc. Pregnancy Support Program: offers women access to support if they want to have their baby e.g. medical care, housing services, vocational training and job placement, day care services, education classes, foster care/kinship care, etc. 20 % of pregnancies in Cambodia are a crisis pregnancy. Crisis pregnancies have many backgrounds – the most common ones are rape, domestic violence, sex work, trafficking and incest. In Cambodia being pregnant and...