So Orn | Cambodia
Eleven-year-old So Orn’s life took a drastic turn when her father went to prison. Her mother was left to provide for So Orn and her grandparents alone. So Orn lives in a rural area of Cambodia, so work was especially difficult to find. Left with no other option, So Orn’s mother moved to a city to find work that would support her family. So Orn stayed behind in the care of her grandparents so she could continue to attend school.
Then the unthinkable happened.
After four years away, So Orn’s mother became desperately ill. She returned home to see So Orn once last time before she passed away.
In the midst of grieving the loss of her mother, So Orn felt like she didn’t have anywhere to go for comfort. She felt like an outcast among her peers because in Cambodia it is shameful to have a family member in prison. She didn’t want to go to school, because she knew the children would shun her because of her father.
So Orn felt hopeless.
Prison Fellowship maintains relationships with prisoners, who often request we find a way to help their families while they are unable to provide for them in prison. Prison Fellowship Cambodia learned of So Orn’s situation and wanted to help during this dark time in her life.
They enrolled her in the children of prisoners sponsorship program, where she is able to receive food, medical care, educational and emotional support and be connected to a local church. Using their extensive network of church partnerships, So Orn and her grandparents were connected with a local pastor. Local staff and the church pastor visit So Orn regularly to encourage her in her studies, teach her the Word of God, and bring her to church where she can feel a sense of acceptance and belonging.
“I was really happy that Prison Fellowship Cambodia chose me to join the program and support my studies,” says So Orn. “Many thanks to my pastor and sponsor for always supporting me.”
So Orn knows the feeling of loss and isolation. But through the support of the program, she is now able to see hope in her future.
“I want to be a teacher one day,” she says.
As a teacher, she can recognize and care for other outcast children, redeeming what was once a place of pain.