Against a background of mounting difficulties COF has completed another successful year in the course of which it has managed to expand not only the numbers of its beneficiaries, but also, in some significant respects, its infrastructure. These achievements have been realisable because of the continuing, generous support and belief of its sponsors and other donors.

As has been the case since COF’s inception, prominent among the difficulties referred to is the scale of need among those COF was established to help, ie the most vulnerable of the children of the already vulnerable class of migrant/stateless Mon and Karen people living in entrenched poverty and danger in Sangkhlaburi and its surrounding jungle and plantation hinterland. Many of these people live on the margins of Thai society: generally they do not speak Thai, lack legal status in Thailand (are effectively stateless) and are accordingly prey to many kinds of exploitation. Not least among their problems is the growing risk of their children being trafficked (or of the parents being tricked into that outcome for their children.)

Burma:

The appalling social economic and political situations inside Burma have long been & still are the root source of most of the hardships faced by the vulnerable border-dwelling communities from which COF’s child beneficiaries come. Despite its abundant resources and potential, Burma is conspicuously a failed state. Despite recent  indications of some (read more)

Outreach Education:

An indication of the scale of just one of the problems currently facing COF was graphically revealed by an initiative to identify the numbers and whereabouts of stateless children who should be in school but who have no access to any education. The result of this survey has been the placement of more than 200 stateless children (many of whom had never been to school before) in registered schools in the Sangkhlaburi border zone. There are many children in and around Sangkhlaburi who for various reasons (mainly the inability to speak Thai or through having to work or being too old to start school), cannot attend a normal school. Surveys carried out by COF at the start of 2011 established that at any given time there are likely to be around 500 stateless children living in or in the close vicinity of Sangkhlaburi who are not attending any school. (read more)…

Border Lands Programme:

BorderLands, created in 2011 as a pilot progaramme, by Children of the Forest & Arteca Italy is designed to provide knowledge and skills to stateless youth, (targeting those who are at risk of becoming involved in dangerous activities), to help them to make safe and well informed life decisions.  We also celebrate the diversity and potential of stateless youth living in the Sangkhlaburi zone of the Thai/Burma border by engaging in art, drama, music and other mediums that encourage self expression. Please see some of our work …. Who am I? also  Analysis

Anti-Drugs Parade:

In recent years the erosion of family structures, lack of access to education &  a general feeling of hopelessness amongst migrant youth have fuelled the emergence of serious drug problems in the stateless communities. Resort to drugs, mainly glue and amphetamine, are becoming a common form of escapism with resultant addiction among the (discouraged and directionless) stateless youth. Increased criminal and anti-social activities are other inevitable outcomes of illicit drug use. (read more)…

Child Trafficking:

Mention has already been made of this scourge. Thai factories, construction sites, plantations and, significantly, the sex industry are always looking for cheap labour. From data collected by World Vision in 2004 (recently updated) & also COF’s own case studies, it appears that as many as 80% of the  children under 18 years who have been trafficked from around this area found themselves in one or other of the following situations: (read more)…

COF Free School  for Stateless Children (the Kelly Anusorn School): .

At 400 the attendance at the school is now the highest it has been since it was founded. An additional preparation class was provided this year to cope with the expected increase in attendance. We now have two preparation classes in operation. Both will continue to accept children throughout school year. (read more)…

Non Violent Communication:

In varying degrees the children involved in the COF programmes have all grown up in environments of high instability and conflict. Their lives have been fraught with danger and fear. In their experience of life both family and political disagreements are too frequently addressed by anger and (often extreme) violence. Peaceful, diplomatic solutions are outside the scope of that experience. That is why COF chose to bring the techniques of non violent communication to the children in its care. (read more)…

Mother & Child Protection Programme:

COF has a small but longstanding programme pursuant to which it provides a residential refuge/shelter for unsupported or abused mothers and their children, enabling them to remain living together. Currently there are 5 mothers & their 9 children in the programme. (read more)…

Medical Programme:

Over and above its Medic’s daily role of attending to sick and; injured children in the school (and the members of the communities from which they come) and arranging where necessary for their admission to hospital, a significant and developing theme of COF’s Medical Programme is its willingness co-operate with other groups working in the same field. (read more)…

Children’s Protection (Residential) Programmes:

There are currently 100 children in the 3 child protection programmes of whom 46 are in the Older Children’s Protection Programme. (Another 35 children are living on the COF site with a single parent. All are in COF sponsored education programmes and are supported in other ways depending on the means of their single parent). The current atmosphere in all of the child protection centres is highly positive, with children motivated and optimistic about this year and their future plans.(read more)…

Radio NZ Interview

In August 2011 we were kindly given the opportunity to speak about COF’s child protection work with Lynn Freeman from Radio NZ National ‘Nine to Noon’ show. (Listen)

Sport:

In addition to its obvious physical benefits, daily football practice has always been useful to help the children find a means of emotional release. As well, such routine activity encourages positive behavioural developments in such areas as self esteem, anger control and team work.  In fact, football continues to be a highly successful activity for the teenage boys and girls alike. (read more)…

Co-operation with other Organisations:

COF continues to be engaged in joint enterprises and collaborative activities with other local NGOs and CBO’s working in broadly the same field. These joint enterprises and collaborative activities have helped us reach even greater numbers of beneficiaries and have included: (read more)…

Rice Cultivation:

COF is moving ever closer to its goal of self-sufficiency. A  step in that direction has been in the production of rice. For several years COF has been leasing 25 rai of land which it has used successfully to cultivate rice to the extent of meeting approximately 2.5 months or around 20% of its annual requirement. (read more)…


Other Income Generating Projects:

Fish:

Three varieties are currently being farmed, catfish, nile fish & sunfish. The latter is, for COF, a new variety. These fish should be ready for harvesting from about 3 months onwards.

Mushrooms:

The mushroom house including its internal shelving has been renovated. A previously untried variety ,angel mushroom, is now in cultivation. It has been chosen on account of the higher available return. The crop will be sufficient to meet COF’s internal needs on an ongoing basis, while still providing a small surplus from time to time for sale at the market.

Oil Palms:

Over 200 oil palms have been planted at the rate of 30 palm plants per rai. They will be yielding within 3 years & will achieve their maximum productivity potential at 7 years, remaining viable for a further 18 years after that point. Palm oil is currently fetching 9 THB/kg (as against 4 THB/kg just 2 years ago.)

Tapioca:

This year COF has 40 rai planted in this valuable cash crop which last season produced between 1 & 2 dry tonnes per rai which sold for 7 THB/kg. On the basis that the average yield is 1.5 tonnes per rai & the market price is unchanged, this season’s crop should produce a gross yield of 420,000 THB. The cost of clearing & planting the land was 35,000 THB, & the cost of harvesting will be about the same. The net yield from this crop is accordingly likely to be in the region of 350,000 THB.  The tapioca will provide the investment needed for increased 2012 rice cultivation.

Fruit & Vegetables:

COF continues to meet  a larger part of its own needs for fruit & vegetables. Apart from the rapidly increasing yields as the fruit trees & banana palms mature, the only change this year is the much larger planting of cha ohm a fast growing tree that produces a leaf used in many Thai and Burmese dishes.

Silviculture:

In addition to its more extensive plantings of paperwood trees which are presently being milled as & when required, there are 4 rai of eucalypts now between 4 & 5 years old. These trees will produce a superior timber & are harvestable from now on, though the longer such harvesting is delayed, the higher will be the yield & the better the quality of the timber.

Current Extent of COF’s Reach:

COF’s beneficiaries now total 1162. The relevant categories of those beneficiaries are:

Residential (Child Protection Centre)  –  105

Attending the COF Free School  – 400

Education Outreach  – 180

Emergency education ** -40

Jungle schools  – 400

Mother & child protection  – 7

** The target group for Education Outreach & Emergency education is the same, as is the content of the two programmes. The difference between the 2 programmes is that Emergency education applies where the child has missed the chance of enrolment ie  is unenrolled at some point beyond the beginning of the school year (with no prospect, apart from this programme of being admitted into a school until the commencement of the next school year.)

Infrastructure:

During the course of the year the following works were completed

  • A new aesthetically pleasing & purpose built administrative office of innovative but economic design. see photos
  • A modernistic ridge top Arts and Yoga Centre has recently been completed. Original in its structural design & at the same time aesthetically pleasing, the building was still remarkably cheap, largely on account of the fact that the principal construction material was bamboo. The 2 storey space, offering dramatic views on all sides (more especially from the upper storey), will be used by the older children for their art work & other creative activities. The building is fully self sufficient in that it has its own water supply (collected from the roof) & solar lighting system. see photos
  • A new water filtration plant & related storage tank (to supplement the supply of drinking water) see photos
  • A new purpose built baby and infant protection centre (completion date 10 Jan 2012). see photos
  • A new purpose built medical clinic (completion date 20 Feb 2012 ) see COF facebook page for updates
  • A new football field. see photos

Christmas 2011

Thank you to everyone who helped to make Christmas Day a really fun and special day this year. An important part of COF Christmas celebrations is to visit one of our jungle schools to spread Christmas good will (through games, activities and other treats) to children much less fortunate than those in COF residential protection programmes. After the visit to the jungle school all the children came together for a bbq at Songalia River. Also a very grateful thank you to those of you who contributed to the 2011 Children of the Forest Christmas Rice Campaign. Still underway today it has been once again successful and will contribute very significantly to COF’s financial well being in 2012.  You can see how the campaign is going by  following the link…COF Christmas Rice Appeal. Here are some Christmas Day photos...see photos

Finally

There are many more stories from 2011 but we hope this gives you an idea of how far we have come, how many children we have helped and sadly, how many more still desperately need our help.  What we achieved in 2011 and what we will accomplish in 2012 is because of the continued support, belief and loyalty of our sponsors, supporters and friends. We thank you from our heart. We look forward to keeping you updated in 2012 through our new web site…childrenoftheforest.org or through our face book page…http://www.facebook.com/childrenoftheforest

We also look forward to your feedback, ideas, and suggestions, through our Children of the Forest forum atforum

We wish each of you all the very best for 2012 and sincerely hope that you can continue to support our vital work. Thank you from us all at Children of the Forest.