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Child Recreation Centre

There are many children around the Clinic with nothing to do: no stimulation and no attention. Most, if not all of these children have been traumatised in some way – either through directly witnessing violence and inhumane atrocities, or through the harsh living conditions in which they are forced to live under the oppressive government that rules their country. The Child Recreation Centre is a new space that provides fun, learning and care; a place for children to go, to be and to play: where they feel and are important.

The Child Recreation Centre (CRC) is a brand new space dedicated to the children of MTC,

Children enjoy an afternoon of finger-painting at the CRC

Everywhere in the world, children are fundamentally powerless, and dependent on their parents and other adults around them for their protection and care.  For the Burmese, many parents are also powerless, constantly at the mercy of the government in Burma and subsequently the Thai authorities when they enter Thailand illegally.  Individuals do not have control over their own lives.  Thus, children suffer further as their parents struggle to cope, forced to live on a day-to-day existence.

Hundreds of people pour into MTC everyday; many coming from the migrant community living in the Mae Sot area; as well as whole families from across the border who travel for days seeking medical attention for a family member.  As a result there are many children around the Clinic with nothing to do: no stimulation and no attention. Most, if not all of these children have been traumatised in some way – either through directly witnessing violence and inhumane atrocities, or through the harsh living conditions in which they are forced to live under the oppressive government that rules their country.

The Child Recreation Centre (CRC) is a brand new space dedicated to the children of MTC, first opening its doors at the end of January 2011.  It aims to provide fun, learning and care; a place for children to go, to be and to play: where they feel and are important.

The centre strives to recognise and prioritise the needs of the children, and to provide stability, predictability, kindness and patience. A broad spectrum of developmental and psychosocial needs is addressed, as well as hygiene and safety – all through children’s preferred expressive media of play, art and creativity.

Currently the centre is open to children between the ages of 4 and 12 years, who are inpatients of the clinic as well as those whose parents are inpatients, however many of these young children also bring along their younger siblings for whose care they are given responsibility.  It is open for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon and provides activities such as arts and crafts, music-making, storytelling and library time, free play, outside physical games and exercises, as well as learning and education around social, developmental, conflict and peace, and health and hygiene issues.

The staff work in a child-cantered manner, and are being trained to observe children’s psychosocial development and to work therapeutically with the children, especially those who are displaying challenging or concerning behaviour. CRC staff also provide support to other departments at the Clinic who are dealing with difficult child cases.  It is hoped that as the skills of the staff develop, that the CRC will be able to provide play therapy and other child-counselling services to children in need.

The CRC also aims to address the daily physical needs of the children at the Clinic. A hungry child cannot play, so a simple snack, a carton of milk and a piece of fruit, is provided to each child every day, provided they wash their hands first – in this way we can teach simple hygiene in a practical manner.

The staff provide nail trimming, as well as hair washes and cuts. Staff are trained to notice when further physical needs are evident – dental / hearing / eye / skin problems – and work with the child’s parents to refer the children to the relevant departments in MTC.

Many children come to the centre with dirty, inappropriate and torn clothing, which are also often the child’s only set, and so when they do get washed by the child’s parents the clothes often need to be put back on the child soaking wet. Staff try to provide the most needy of these children with new clothes as much as possible – sometimes they even bring in their own clothes and shoes for the children.