I moved to Thailand in 2011 to work in an after school program for what I thought would be one year. Clearly, God had other plans. Six years later, I’m still here and in 2016, I co-founded Jojo’s Sanctuary. I was compelled to start this program with my Thai colleagues because Chiang Mai has no short-term family based foster care system for children in crisis. After seeing more than one child be left on their own after their single mom was arrested for a petty crime, I realized kids like that are at high risk of trafficking or other forms of exploitation. They need a loving family to support them through this trauma, not a massive orphanage with no time for one-on-one attention. I started thinking: What if we could be a part of engaging families in Thailand to open their homes to kids in crisis? And what if we could equip families in the kids’ home communities with the skills to protect all the kids in the community from abuse, exploitation and trafficking? Think of the impact such a program could have! I have had the desire to work in foster care for years, I just never thought I’d be working with a foreign government and other NGOs to help build a system from the ground up. I’m excited to see how far the ripples can go with our Child Empowerment Program and Foster Care Family Outreach.
By Heather Askew - Jojo's Sanctuary Project Leader
Today we had a great meeting with Care for Children, a non-profit assisting the Thai government with creating the infrastructure to support a foster care system. We discussed what both of our groups consider essential trainings for potential foster parents to receive in order to provide the best support for children who cannot be raised by their biological parents for one reason or another. We discovered that a major roadblock for the Thai government is the lack of funding for these trainings.
Since most foster parents are low to middle income, missing a day of work to attend a training, however important, would require them to miss out on income they need to take care of their family. In order to provide this training, families would need to be compensated for lost wages, cost of transportation and lunch. Even though this would total only about $150 per training for 30 families, the social welfare budget is so tight, if they spent this money on a training, it would mean not being able to give financial assistance to foster families for food and toiletries for the children they care for during the months of the training. The money raised through this campaign will be used to come alongside the government to cover the costs of these trainings for current and prospective foster families, improving the lives of both foster children and the families who care for them. Thank you for your support as we continue to work with the Thai government to provide well for their children.
Sep 12, 2017
Empowerment Program Success Story
By Heather Askew - Project Director
In our Child Empowerment Program, the first session teaches the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. We have had the opportunity to teach this session in four different areas of Chiang Mai Province. The best result to come so far was in Mae Jam county. This is about three hours from Chiang Mai city and consists of many tribal groups who have not had the advantage of higher education and many of whom still struggle with economic hardship, substance abuse and other issues.
Many tribal children must board at a home while attending high school, due to the lack of schools in their village area. We did this training at one such dorm, and after we finished, the house mother came to Butsaba with tears in her eyes. Her sister was in an abusive relationship and didn’t know what to do. She was beaten so badly she ended up in the hospital for several days. When she asked the village chief for help, he wrote it off as “a family matter.” Now that she had learned about human rights and that her sister had legal rights as a human, she could go to the police and report this abuse to get help for her sister. She couldn’t thank Butsaba enough for sharing this topic with her and the students.
Read more about this program in our blogs on our website at the link below.