Safe House for Orphaned and Abandoned Children

The Social Action for Women Safe House, this month’s blog focus, was one of Room to Grow’s first partners in the migrant community back in 2009. Although our project with them was small, providing regular deliveries of rice, yellow beans and eggs, we were struck by how much Social Action for Women (SAW) was doing for these children, and wanted to help more.

Most of Room to Grow’s partners are boarding houses attached to migrant schools. These shelter and care mainly for children whose parents live far away, maybe in small Burmese villages with no school, in factories in Bangkok, or working in the fields, following the crops. Staying in a boarding house is often the only way that these children can complete primary school. They love living with their friends, but also look forward to going home during the long summer holidays. Unfortunately, the children at the SAW Safe House don’t have this option.

Most of the children at the Safe House were orphaned or abandoned when they were very young. Many have lost their parents to AIDS or other diseases. Others have parents who are in prison or unable to look after them. Some were trafficked and later sent to SAW for safety. Whether children should be growing up in orphanages is a big question, and I wish that there were some other option – that these 55 children could live with their own families, or with foster families who treat them as their own. Here, today, that isn’t possible.

The children at the Safe House are stateless, with no government or social services to take responsibility for them. However, there are local people who are doing all that they can. The children at the Safe House have caregivers who truly care for them as their own – women they call auntie or granny, who live with and look after them 24/7. They also get an accredited education at Thai school, not just protecting them from deportation, but also giving them the opportunity to continue their studies or find good jobs in Thailand in the future. All of this is in jeopardy now, as donors move their funding out of Mae Sot and into Burma. This is much needed, of course, and will bring huge benefits in the long-term – but what will happen to the 55 children living at the Safe House now, children who have nowhere else to go?

Room to Grow would like to step up our involvement with the SAW Safe House over the next year, to ensure that despite the setbacks in their early years, these children have a present and future which include nutritious food, loving caregivers and an education enabling them to fulfil their potential. If you feel the same, please continue to support us however you can.

For more information about our work with the Safe House, see our information page, or the blog posts rice for SAW, the blanket blog, simple dreams, a wonderful week in Mae Sot and making masks at SAW.  We’ll also be posting more photos and updates on our blog and facebook page over the next month, so watch this space…

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