Chiang Mai foster Mum with her two foster sons
Our own life stories are critically important to us as they build a picture of who we are and where we come from. For those of us fortunate enough to grow up with our own parents, siblings, grandparents or close family friends around us, we can rely on them to recall stories surrounding our birth, what we were like as a baby and toddler, and perhaps even as a grumpy teenager!
Children who grow up in an orphanage don’t naturally get that kind of attention. Some of the children entering the orphanages we work with have little or no documented family history. Children who have no sense of belonging are often deeply insecure and can find it difficult to make and maintain positive relationships with others, which in turn can make their transition into a family more challenging.
Our Life Story Work workshops train orphanage staff and family placement workers to create a ‘Life Story Book’ with each child in their care. Their job, over a set period of time, is to create a documented history of a child’s life with as much information as they can gather. This can include the child’s own memories, old photos, friends’ stories, orphanage files, city records – you name it – to document the child’s life to date. This becomes a highly personal book that the child can consistently add to and review, and they are free to decide who can view it. It is a critical tool to help clear up some of the muddles in his/her own foggy memories, and move forward in life with a bit more reassurance – especially if it is into a new family!
We were delighted to invite and host Life Story Work training specialist, Toni Adriano, from the Anglia Foster Agency in the UK. Together with Care for Children’s training team from China and the UK, we spent three intense days introducing the concept of Life Story Work for the first time to 12 staff representing three orphanages.
The feedback we received was unanimously positive - here’s a selection:
“Life Story Work should be provided to all the staff that look after children.”
“The training is useful, and it is very useful for my work. I recommend that we should have several training workshops about this per year from Care for Children.”
“Training on this topic should be arranged at least twice a year.”
A big thank you from Chiang Mai for making this work possible!
Discussing case studies during training
Introducing new training methods: finger puppets!