Trafficking Prevention and Foster Care in Thailand

by CORD Ministries International
Trafficking Prevention and Foster Care in Thailand
Trafficking Prevention and Foster Care in Thailand
Trafficking Prevention and Foster Care in Thailand
Trafficking Prevention and Foster Care in Thailand
Trafficking Prevention and Foster Care in Thailand
Trafficking Prevention and Foster Care in Thailand
Trafficking Prevention and Foster Care in Thailand
Trafficking Prevention and Foster Care in Thailand
Trafficking Prevention and Foster Care in Thailand
Trafficking Prevention and Foster Care in Thailand
Trafficking Prevention and Foster Care in Thailand
Trafficking Prevention and Foster Care in Thailand
Trafficking Prevention and Foster Care in Thailand
Trafficking Prevention and Foster Care in Thailand
Trafficking Prevention and Foster Care in Thailand
Trafficking Prevention and Foster Care in Thailand
Trafficking Prevention and Foster Care in Thailand
Trafficking Prevention and Foster Care in Thailand
Butsaba and Jay Saeher, co-founders
Butsaba and Jay Saeher, co-founders

In the US, we take social services and the foster system for granted. But we all know that it’s a recent addition to our society, replacing orphanages before it. In Thailand, the standard procedure for poor families or orphaned children is to send them to orphanages or children’s homes. But what about when children have their sole caregiver arrested for a petty crime and sent to jail for only a few weeks or months? What becomes of them?

Thailand has been working for the past several years to build the infrastructure to shift from orphanages into family-based care, whether that be with extended family, neighbors or a qualified foster family. However, because the problem is so big, they have been focused solely on long-term care. Jojo’s Sanctuary provides short-term care (up to one year) for children in this situation in a family setting. Two of Jojo’s Sanctuary’s founders are a couple who have long had the desire to be foster parents, even before they knew what it meant. They will be able to provide a loving environment for a few children at a time, but in order to create a whole system, we must engage the community as well.

That is where your support comes in! By supporting our project, you will make it possible for us to partner with the Thai government in doing community outreach to share with Thai people the benefits of family-based short term care. This is a big task, as it requires people to overcome their fear of allowing bad karma into their homes by taking in disadvantaged children. By promoting foster care, and putting a human face on it, we will be able to find and equip good families to provide support these kids need.

We will also be able to support the Thai government by providing funds for them to have training sessions for current and future foster parents so they can better care for the kids entrusted to them. They will learn about the different types of foster care, attachment disorder and how to prevent or treat it, how to be sensitive to kids needs and emotions, parenting children who have been traumatized and how to recognize signs of sexual abuse and how to prevent it.

Here are some words from some of our founders, Butsaba and Jay Saeher:

We started Jojo’s Sanctuary because we wanted to work with kids who had been traumatized. We know that there are lots of kids abandoned by their parents and others who don’t have the chance to go to school. We want to become foster parents so traumatized children will feel loved and supported and have a better future. We know we can’t replace their parents, but we can help them process their trauma and work with their families to become strong, loving and supportive of their children. We feel called to do this because we know God loves us and we want to share that love with children and families who may have never felt loved.

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Heather
Heather

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.

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Why are we named Jojo’s Sanctuary? We get asked this question a lot. We named our project in honor of a little boy called Jojo that our founders knew. We founded this project only weeks after his tragic death and in an effort to keep his memory alive and always remember why we do what we do, decided to name it in his honor. Jojo was the nephew of friends who do humanitarian relief work in Thailand. For several years after Jojo’s parents divorced, Jojo and his siblings lived with this aunt and uncle while his father and other relatives remained in Laos. Once his father was more stable, the children moved back to Laos, but their dad couldn’t take care of all the kids on his own, so Jojo was sent to live out in the country with a different aunt and uncle. Sadly for all involved, the aunt did not adjust to parenting well and began abusing little Jojo, resulting in his death at the age of 8 years old. When we decided to form Jojo’s Sanctuary, we did it with the idea that we could reach out into rural communities and teach both children and their caregivers about children’s rights, abuse, and positive discipline techniques to try to prevent this from happening to other children. If children are being abused, their caregivers can be equipped with the information necessary to parent better and get help for themselves and their family. 2017 has seen our outreach program reap good results. Thank you for helping us to continue it in 2018!

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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.

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Group activities
Group activities

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.

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Organization Information

CORD Ministries International

Location: Wickenburg, AZ - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @JojoSThailand
Project Leader:
Heather Askew
Wickenburg, AZ United States

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