When Tola* was 18 months old, his mother made the difficult decision to place him in the care of an orphanage. With his father away – working as a solider – she was struggling to care for both Tola and her other children, especially give Tola required regular medical treatment, which she could not afford.
Tola’s mum placed her young son with an elderly lady, at a children’s centre in Cambodia’s Kampong Speu Province and visited him whenever she could. Sometime later, when Tola’s father returned from military service, they went to the centre together to pick him up and take him home. Sadly, they were told the older care worker – whom Tola’s mother had placed Tola with – had sent the young boy to live at another children’s home just before she died. No one knew which centre that was.
Tola’s parents were devastated and spent several years searching for their lost son, including an entire month looking in every known children’s centre in Phnom Penh. But still, they could not find their son.
Then in 2016, the centre Tola had been placed at became part of ACCIR’s Kinnected program. Our social workers began searching for Tola’s family and eventually found a link to his village and finally, to his parents. When his parents received the call about their son, they were so overjoyed, they travelled to see him the very next day. And after 10 years of being separated, Tola and his parents were finally reunited!
After family assessments were conducted and preparations made, Tola went to live with his parents in their home in Preah Vihear province. The family continues to receive support, including financial assistance for Tola’s schooling. They remain immensely grateful for all the people who helped bring their lost boy home again.
*Name changed for privacy purposes.