May 18, 2020

Another win for citizenship!

Nikki with her family and citizenship officer
Nikki with her family and citizenship officer

For those of your who don't follow us on social media, we got Nikki her citizenship, just squeaking in before things shut down for COVID mid-March. This has been an arduous process. Nikki is the middle of 5 children and the only one who still didn't have her citizenship card. It has been a year since we completed her brother's case, and his was supposed to be the hard one! Since we started working on Nikki's case, it has been 3 years, 5 citizenship case managers, three sets of interviews (of the same people) and LOTS of paperwork. (sorry trees!) Here, there are so many paths to citizenship that none of them are clear and no one can agree on the best way to do it. I mentioned we had 5 case managers. Well, that means 5 different ideas of which path to take. In Thailand, people usually are at their job for around 6 months to a year before being transferred to a different province or department. It's supposed to help with corruption, but really it just creates chaos and a lack of investment in their job. Our final guy got the job done though, so we are very thankful! We showed our appreciation with a basket of fresh fruit for the officer. Now Nikki is eligible for school scholarships through her school so she can continue her studies and go to college. She just graduated from 9th grade, which is the mandatory minimum here, and after that you have to pay for school. Many schools provide scholarships but only for citizens. Now she is eligible for those scholarships! Of course, we would have helped cover the cost of her tuition regardless, but we are happy she has other options so we can assist other families in her situation. 


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May 4, 2020

Foster Care during COVID

16th Birthday celebration at the reservoir
16th Birthday celebration at the reservoir

The four girls we provided care for since December are all moving into different phases. The two sisters cared for by Butsaba and Jay will transition into their new long term foster home in May. The exciting thing is their new foster parents have been friends of ours for many years, so we will be able to easily maintain relationship with the girls. We plan to include them in activities with Jojo's Sanctuary and sometimes they will stay with Jay and Butsaba when the foster parents need to go out of town. 

Of the two girls who stayed with Heather, one is spending the Thai summer holidays (normally March-May, but extended until July due to the COVID crisis) with her family in the mountain village. It was decided that she would return to Chiang Mai to complete her minimum education requirements here before transitioning to live with her relatives in another province. She will continue to stay with Heather during the school year. 

Our final girl just graduated from 9th grade and tested into a private school for high school, which we are all excited about. She also turned 16 while in our care, so we were able to take all the kids out to celebrate with a day at the reservoir complete with kayaks and waterslides. Currently, we are working with the team of Faithful Heart Foundation to find the best placement for her in her extended family. The ideal scenario is for her to live with her older sister, but other family members are opposed to this while not wanting to care for her themselves. We are hopeful that we can address all the family members' concerns and feel confident in maintaining harmony in the family while giving her what she wants and needs in living with her sister, who is her closest living family member. The goal is to have this transition completed by June 1. 

Foster care placements by the govenrment are on hold for the time being due to the COVID=19 situation worldwide. We anticipate receiving one or two new foster children by the fall, once restrictions are lifted and social workers are allowed to begin doing home visits once again. 

Jan 24, 2020

2020 off to a good start

 Just before Christmas break, we had the opportunity to meet with an amazing woman from Chiang Rai named Meejoo. She works on citizenship rights for people in countries all over SE Asia, with an organization called IMPACT. She has an amazing life story and when she first started meeting with corrupt village leaders who were extorting money out of poor villagers to sign their paperwork, she was poisoned and nearly died! But she did not give up and now the laws have changed, far fewer village leaders are using extortion to get their community citizenship and she has helped countless children get their human right to become citizens of their birth country. 

Today, we are meeting with the citizenship offices in Doi Saket, where we have 2 cases pending. Meejoo helped us understand the laws more and gave us advice on the cases. One case where the government officer said we would have to do a DNA test, she assured us that is not the case, and explained how to do that case. Hopefully, the government official will be willing to listen to us and follow the correct procedure to get this girl her citizenship so she can graduate high school and be eligible for college scholarships.

We are also finding out about our second case with the boy who has scoliosis. Apparently, they will not do a DNA test between a male and female unless they are mother and child or father and child. The only living relative this boy has is his aunt, so it makes his case much more complicated. We are hopeful they will be able to find another route to get his citizenship so he can get the surgery he needs to live a normal life. Without his citizenship, this surgery will cost around $10,000, so it makes a huge difference for him. 

Next month, we will journey back to Mae Fah Luang to assist a woman whose case we worked on last year to get her 3 children registered and get their citizenship cards. We are excited about this, as one year ago, no one in the family had citizenship, and by the end of February, the whole family should have it!

Thank you for supporting this cause and we will keep you apprised of any new developments. Be assured, your donations are being used to support people who are very deserving and in need. 

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