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Reportage about Karen and Mon refugees made in collaboration with Children of the forest in Sangkhlaburi across the border between Thailand and M… Read More
Reportage about Karen and Mon refugees made in collaboration with Children of the forest in Sangkhlaburi across the border between Thailand and Myanmar. Read Less
Published:
Children of the forest
Sangkhlaburi, Thailand, 15km from Burmese border.
For many decades the Karen and Mon people have been persecuted by the military government of Burma. 

It is estimated that there are around 2 million displaced Karen and Mon living on the Thai side of the border. Stateless, and without any legal rights, what they find in Thailand is often no better than what they escaped from.

The high hospital fees for non-Thai citizens means most Karen and Mon are effectively denied access to health care. With diseases like malaria, dengue fever, HiV and tuberculosis rampant, this denial can prove fatal.

Children of the Forest is a project aimed at providing protection, education and health care to Karen and Mon children and mothers in most urgent need living in the Sangkhlaburi border zone.
Around 15 people per day visit the bamboo clinic. Sometimes they get there too late and their disease is already too advanced. With limited medicines and equipment, Children of the Forest’s medical staff do the best they can.

Children of the Forest’s medics visit the villages and settlements in the Sangkhlaburi border zone. On finding sick children, they assess the seriousness and, if necessary, and whenever it is possible, they get the child or mother to a hospital and assist with medical bills. Children of the Forest’s free school for 350 stateless children also serves as a valuable means to locate sick boys and girls. They often find children coming to the school with serious illnesses such as malaria, tuberculosis, dengue fever and HIV.

In 2006, Children of the Forest opened a Mother & Child Protection Centre that allows abandoned, and often seriously abused, mothers to heal and to remain with her children, reforming their relationship in a safe environment. Abandoned mothers are particularly vulnerable in this border area. With no social welfare, the death or departure of their husband leaves them in a critical struggle to provide their sons or daughters with the most basic necessities. Our medical team support both the mother and her children on the road to new hope and opportunity.

Two years ago, Children of the Forest opened 3 “safe houses”. They’re simple bamboo houses with grass thatch roofs located on the border. This program provides protection and medical care to stateless mothers who have been seriously abused, often raped and who cannot pass through Thai military check points to access Children of the Forest’s main project site.

Today, Children of the Forest’s clinic provides first line medical assistance, advice and in serious cases referrals to around 350 children and mothers per month. 

More info -> www.childrenoftheforest.com

In order to provide an alternative choice for these children they have started a kindergarten and elementary school with free education and meals. Though this school was at first unofficial and therefore could not issue certificates, it nevertheless provided the children with the essential survival tool of spoken and written Thai, which can increase opportunities and reduce the chance of exploitation in Thai society. They also see their school as an important place for these children to find self-expression and fun away from their difficult home lives. In addition, the school provides their staff with the opportunity to monitor the physical and psychological health of the children most at risk in Sangkhlaburi.
They have 12 full-time teachers working with limited resources and basic facilities. 

The school has been recognized by the Thai Government and now has official status meaning they can issue official graduation certificates and ID cards, a massive step toward security and opportunity for once stateless children.  
This woman had an epilitectic fit and fell into a cooking fire.The burns were so severe that she lost her ears, lips, breasts, one arm and her right foot. Some years after the incident was raped by a man in the jungle and left alone with her pregnancy. Now she lives with her child in the Children of Forest's Mother & Child protection program and treated.
The husband (a droug addict) of this woman tried to kill her three times (se has cuts all around her body). The last time she was 7 months pregnant and she lost consciousness arriving at the hospital for internal bleeding.
The child born prematured (he weighted only 1kg) but now is living safe at COTF with his mother and his other 3 brothers.
This woman suffered from total blindness at age of 8 and she was abandoned by her husband with 2 children (3 and 9 years old). In this photo is attendind the child of another woman.
Those are some of the people who found recover in the safe houses in Burmese territory. 

This child is 2 years old but very weak and tiny. Children of the forest is helping his grand father to grew him well!
Children came every morning from all the village around Sangkhlaburi to be visited at the healthcare center.
This boy lost both legs due to menigitis and he was in the nutrition program since 2008.