Here are just a few examples of how we provide care, protection and education to those in need. Please note, names have been changed to protect individuals’ privacy.
Mother & Child Protection
Single mothers often reach out to Children of the Forest for support when they have nowhere else to go. Helen, a blind mother was abandoned by her husband when she was pregnant with her second child. Thanks to a concerned neighbour, we’ve been able to provide her and her two young sons with onsite care and shelter, and to give her a job making soy milk for our child protection program, so she can feel more self-sufficient and independent.
Young Child Protection
Young children who join Children of the Forest’s protection program are often victims of their parent’s crippling circumstances. When Amy then 8 yrs old first came into Children of the Forest’s care, she was extremely sick and neglected, after spending months in hospital without any family care and support. With her mother passing away and an alcoholic, abusive father, Amy lived in extreme poverty and had few life prospects. With the support of the local village leader, Amy was placed in Children of The Forest’s care. She has been able to attend school, develop close friendships with other children living in our residential home, and take part in our youth development activities to build her self-esteem and confidence. Today, she is a warm, caring and friendly teenager who enjoys life and looks out for younger children in our program.
It is not uncommon for migrant parents and children to be lured by the promise of decently paid jobs in the city, only to find that they work in exploitative conditions once they arrive. Two teenage girls in our child protection program left COF at their parent’s request for this very reason. Although the girls found work in a restaurant, they were quickly relocated to a karaoke bar where they were subjected to exploitative work conditions. As the girls’ parents owed the employer money for their relocation costs, they were not allowed to leave. Children of the Forest and a local child protection organisation intervened immediately, and brought them back safely to our protection centre. The girls have since moved back home, are attending a local Thai government school, and are regularly visited by COF staff to monitor their progress and maintain their safety.
With many migrant families living in poverty, child trafficking is often a desperate response to earn money in order to survive. After being abandoned by her husband shortly after fleeing to Thailand, a young destitute mother was finding it difficult to find any paid work. A concerned villager reported her case to Children of the Forest after a trafficker offered 2,500 baht for her new-born baby, Sophie, which she was looking to accept. In agreement with the young mother, we took the 45-day old Sophie into our care. Today she is a happy, healthy little girl who has a chance of a better future.
Migrant children still face many challenges accessing the Thai education system due to their parents’ poor circumstances. When Miriam, a single Karen mother and her four children came to Children of the Forest for help, she had no home and was unable to find paid work. We were able to provide onsite housing and access to education for her children for the first time. By attending the Children of the Forest Free School, the children have learnt how to read and write in Thai. They are now getting ready to enrol into a Thai government school to help further their education and increase the prospects of becoming eligible for a Thai identity card.