While Mae Tao Clinic began as a humble health service delivery organisation, it has evolved into an umbrella social services network for refugees, migrant workers, and other displaced Burmese. As a focal point of these activities, child protection is the most rapidly growing area of need. The continued deterioration of services in eastern Burma, coupled with the steadily growing population of migrant families, accounts for the increased demand for our work.
The services supported by MTC are community-created and operated, with the goal of creating a strong civil society network to best protect children and foster positive youth development. We partner with local community-based organisations from basic logistics and supplies through policy and advocacy issues.
The objective of our children’s programmes is not just education. Our objective is to enable the development of strong community networks and services that are locally sustainable. To support this broader objective, we organise various collaborative community projects and forums to maximise the use of limited resources and to strengthen protection mechanisms.
Due to the ongoing violence and unrest in Burma, many Burmese people, especially ethnic minorities, have fled to Mae Sot. It is estimated that there are approximately 150,000 Burmese migrant workers and their families living in the Mae Sot and Pho Phra districts of Tak province (although this number is very difficult to estimate as most migrant workers are not registered with the Thai government). The children of these families face innumerable barriers to a healthy and prosperous future, including lack of education, proper housing, and basic human rights.
The first step in child protection is to ensure that basic physical needs of the children are provided in a consistent manner, including health, food and accommodation. The second step is education, employing core curriculum as well as vocational training. Third, these basic elements require the support of a strong framework of protection. This protection framework includes birth registration, child protection policy, and psychosocial support.
Since 1995, Mae Tao Clinic has been providing education to children from Burma living in the Mae Sot area. The child protection programme was originally an ad hoc project to support needs as they arose. This has evolved into a comprehensive programme with a holistic approach to child protection.
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