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May 6, 2016 - Comments Off on BETTER THAN CURE…

BETTER THAN CURE…

 

‘Prevention is better than cure …’ so the adage goes. This why ZOE International & ZOE Australia operates their ‘Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign’ along Thai-Burma Border Region.

The target group of this program is the children and adults who live in this ‘at risk’ area of human trafficking activities. Throughout the year we educate people along the Thai-Burma border and at local schools on the dangers of human trafficking and how they can protect themselves from becoming a victim.

The ‘Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign’ program has been designed with two modes – a full program and a half program. The full program includes:

  • teachings on the definition of human trafficking
  • configuration of human trafficking
  • types of human trafficking
  • prevention from human trafficking

This program typically includes of mixture of:

  • dramas
  • music
  • games
  • teaching workshops
  • discussion groups

Better than cure...

The ZOE Child Rescue staff often team up with the ZOE ministry students.

Working with this prevention program has truly developed teamwork within our ZOE Child Rescue team, as we experience the love, fellowship, commitment, and endurance among the team.

In addition, this teamwork allows us to see and know each other’s natural & spiritual gifts, which also helps to build up and strengthen us even more as a team. The way we connect with and spend time with the local people helps us to better understand their situations and problems which, in turn motivates us to work even harder to provide assistance for these vulnerable people. During the last quarter of 2015, we ran our ‘Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign’ program twice.

 

April 13, 2016 - Comments Off on Our new Garden Hut

Our new Garden Hut

We are in the last stages of finishing off our new vegetable green house. We also call it our 'garden Hut' or 'Pak Baan' (which is what the Thai staff call it).
The 'Garden Hut' was developed to grow vegetables in the off season. For example, items like chilli do very well in the hot season, but not in the heavy rainy season.This vegetable green house allows us to grow chilli in the rainy season because it is protected from the rains. Why is this important? Because growing vegetables in their off season means we do not have to pay higher prices for these types of crops at the market!

With the 'Garden Hut' we can grow higher value crops and give our kids a wider variety of food without paying the higher prices!
This entire project was designed, built and installed by our teen boys and Thai staff. We have been able to undertake this project because of some grant-money we received some from ZOE Foundation Australia.
Doing everything from scratch instead of buying prefabricated huts, means that we have been able to get TWICE as much area under the coverings, giving us the ability to produce twice as much crops!

 

March 29, 2016 - Comments Off on Transitional Program

Transitional Program

Way back in the beginning of 2015, David and I were searching for a house suitable to become the Transition Home for the young adults leaving the ZOE Children’s Home and working towards independence. It was a new concept, untried and untested. There really didn't seem to be any similar models around to glean ideas from or ask the hundreds of questions that were swimming through our heads.

The week before we moved into house, some people had contacted our ZOE founders with an interest in designating some money towards university students. We were asked to meet with them and explain about the new program and the model that we would be launching at the Transitional Home. It seemed kind of nerve-wracking trying to describe what this program would be like when really all we had was an empty house, a brief outline and some goals that we hoped were achievable. But thankfully this couple, Bart and Liz were amazing and kind, plus totally encouraging to the vision that we shared. Throughout the busyness of the past 12 months in the Transitional Home, it’s been the people like Bart and Liz along with the White River Church community who have been so supportive of this new program. For these people who have continued to uphold our family, the young adults and the program in prayer we appreciate their “cheerleading” efforts from the sidelines.

It was our joy to have Bart visit the home in January this year and be able to finally show him how much this program helps these young people on their journey towards independent living and for him to meet some of the young people who have been directly assisted. Together we celebrated all that this program has achieved so far and how God had provided for this new adventure!

As we chatted, our attention was drawn to the large whiteboard in the room where Dave and I, along with our co-workers, had been brainstorming a ‘name’ for the house just the day before. (Transitional Home is not that easy to translate into Thai). At ZOE we call this place “The Nest” as that really is what is has become.

Transitional Home Pics

As you may already know, ZOE is the Greek word for ‘life’. Children at the ZOE Children’s Homes, now have a new chance at life. Most importantly though, as they develop trust and security with their new family at ZOE, they are introduced to the concept of ‘eternal life’ that is offered freely through the love of Jesus Christ. When we think about ‘life’, a picture comes to my mind. We are reminded of a big, healthy tree. Its roots are strong and deep below the earth’s surface supporting the body of the tree and feeding life up into the tree. On this big tree are many branches. The ZOE families are like the branches. They are ‘home’ for so many who need shelter and protection from the world. On one of the branches sits a NEST. This place is connected to the branch and is in a way a part of the tree and yet it is a place that offers a comfortable and secure launching place whereby baby birds grow up and eventually fly away. The birds in the tree will never reach their full potential if they’re kept in the nest or perched on the branch.

At ZOE we’re raising a generation of children to be responsible, compassionate and independent adults who will contribute to society through meaningful work and service; and because we follow Jesus, our hope and prayer is that they too would follow Him, … and one day, they will leave the NEST and fly!

As we continue to develop this program and fine-tune the guidelines and expectations, we are realising that the ‘nest’ is a safety net but it’s also okay if it feels ‘a little prickly’ at times too. Although we want the young adults to feel comfortable in the home, being too comfortable can actually be a set-back! As we, the leaders learn and grow with the program; we are beginning to learn when it is necessary to keep them close and tucked under the wing, and when it is time to gently nudge them towards the edge. Please keep them in your prayers. There are so many highs and lows as well as the adjustments of leaving their ZOE families, beginning work and moving to the city.

Just a quick update: There was much excitement this month as more young people moved into the ‘nest’. They now have begun working over the summer break already getting into the rhythm of working, cooking meals as well as having the added freedom and responsibility, that being an adult involves.

March 15, 2016 - Comments Off on What is the ZOE Child Rescue Center?

What is the ZOE Child Rescue Center?

As Rob shared in the video, we are more excited about how the new ZOE Child Rescue Centre can be used by ZOE to help us better care for children than we are by the construction. We have been asked by some people, what is the purpose of the CRC? Is it needed? Is it worth the significant investment? What happens if you build this and then you only help a handful of kids?

We have no problem defending ZOE's belief that we will do whatever it takes to find and rescue these children. They are worth it! So, at ZOE we are creating the right tools to be able to help the 'good guys' win!

First-hand-witness accounts for the harsh reality that, none of our team is a 'hero' to a child once they are rescued; and the notion of a child running into our arms with tears rolling down their cheeks is just not the reality we face. These children are broken, angry and initially they add all of us to the list of people they hate with a passion. The bigger problem however, is the problem of trust. After years of being lied to and being mistreated, they basically trust no-one. So, if an opportunity presents itself to them they will run; and if that happened ... where would they go? Most likely, somewhere familiar to them, which would lead them straight back to the 'bad guys'.

Our task is to help the police and the social welfare team to remove them from danger, and try and keep them safe. As we seek to achieve these things, we know that with every minute that passes, here in front of us is a child who is broken, hurting and is desperate for someone to love them.

Given the state of the children when they come to ZOE, we know that we need to provide for them a unique place. We need time to build trust with the children, and we need an environment that is safe and friendly. We need somewhere where the 'good guys' who will be helping the child, are able to come and meet with them.

That place is the new Child Rescue Centre...

___________________________

ZOE’s Child Rescue Centre will serve as a specialised site where representatives from law enforcement, government, and NGO's work together to identify and serve victims of child trafficking. Team members from a wide range of services will collaborate to do the following:

  • provide sensitive, victim-centred care
  • address the children’s immediate needs
  • assess for evidence of child trafficking
  • reduce the need for children to retell the details of their abuse

This phase of care will focus on the following:

  • Child-friendly Environment: The Child Rescue Centre (CRC) environment will be comfortable and non-threatening. It will include rest areas, a kitchen, a first-aid room, a forensic interview room, an observation bay, a meeting room, workspace, a private waiting area, a guest room and bathroom for overnight stays for representatives of partner agencies; and a spacious, secure outside area for exercise or relaxation.
  • Immediate Needs: When a child is brought to the CRC, the first course of action will be the assessment and provision of that child’s immediate needs (e.g. food, shower, hygiene items, and clothing). Basic first-aid services and crisis mental health care will also be provided onsite as needed. The CRC will also have a free store for the child to pick out clothes, under garments, shoes, and hygiene products of their own choosing and liking.
  • Initial Interview: After the child’s immediate needs have been met – and when the child is ready – a preliminary interview will be conducted. The interview will help to identify the child’s short-term needs. It will also provide team members the opportunity to begin identifying and documenting evidence of human trafficking and other abuses. Interviews will be conducted in a child-friendly environment by trained childcare staff, forensic interviewers and law enforcement officials as appropriate to each child’s circumstance. Multidisciplinary team members will observe the interviews from a discreet observation bay, reducing the need for children to retell painful details of their victimisation.
  • Proven Model: The model we have based our CRC on has been used internationally for many years to identify and assist victims of child abuse. This collaborative service model has proven to be highly effective in two key areas: higher levels of child satisfaction and dramatic increases in prosecution rates.
  • Emergency Shelter and Safe House:  The CRC will serve as an emergency shelter and safe house where children will receive refuge and trauma-informed services for as long as necessary.  Thus, services can be provided to children in a seamless manner at one location.

 

Read more about how ZOE's help to restore children


 

Video update: August 2016 -click here!

 

March 1, 2016 - Comments Off on Freedom from the past

Freedom from the past

For anyone visiting ZOE Children’s Home in Thailand, it is easy to quickly forget the deeply tragic pasts that are masked behind the many smiling faces of our children.

If you spent time with the kids, you would never suspect the great pain they have endured in their short lives. Their joyful smiles and playful spirits usually disguise devastating human trafficking stories. This is why it is so important for ZOE to provide not only a loving family for each child who comes to live with us, but also professional clinical care.

A staff of social workers, a Thai psychologist, and a translator make up the small clinical team at ZOE. Our heart and vision for this team is to provide a place of healing for ZOE children. Through assessments, counselling sessions, and group therapy meetings; we are able to assess each child’s need and develop a plan to help them meet their goals.

Our clinical team loves every one of our ZOE kids and feels honoured to walk alongside them in their recovery. Through the utilisation of play & art therapy as well as trauma-informed therapy, we are able to meet our children where they are and help them to share their story. As the children go through counselling, they have an opportunity to share their darkest secrets, biggest fears, and most shameful moments. When these kids realise they are still accepted and loved after sharing, they are able to begin experiencing freedom from their past. As each child learns to let go of the lies they have been forced to believe whilst being trafficked, they can finally begin to know the truth — that they are valued and they are cherished.

 

Below is a short story of one boy’s healing through counselling written by one of the counselling team:

Note

 

February 25, 2016 - Comments Off on TIME TO ACT … is now!

TIME TO ACT … is now!

ZOE is currently partnering with local and federal Thai Law Enforcement and Thai Social Services under the Children’s Advocacy Centre Thailand (A.C.T.) which officially opened on February 16, 2016 in T. Suthep. The A.C.T. is the first of its kind in Thailand and in ASEAN. Within this task force, ZOE personnel assist with information gathering in conjunction with, and at the direction of the Thai law enforcement branch of the task force.

During 2015, ZOE assisted Thai Law Enforcement (local and federal) with gathering and organising information. The investigations which run under the pilot program — A.C.T. task force, involve local and foreign suspects. The A.C.T. task force works in conjunction with several foreign federal law enforcement entities including the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Homeland Security Investigation (HSI), Italian Federal Police, Australian Federal Police (AFP), and British Federal Police.

In short, ZOE’s collaboration is with:

  • Thai & other foreign NGOs
  • Work with Thai Law Enforcement
  • Department of Special Investigation (DSI)
  • Royal Thai Police (RTP) Region 5
  • Immigration Police
  • Foreign law enforcement agencies: USA, British, Australian, Italian

The work of the A.C.T. focuses on supporting investigation and enforcement of the law in Thailand and overseas to see that justice is achieved. This collaborative work with the A.C.T. enables the on-going work of ZOE International & ZOE Australia to continue being one of support for victims from the beginning of the legal process until the completion of the process for both criminal and civil law.

A time to ACT

September 22, 2015 - Comments Off on Walking for a cause!

Walking for a cause!

As part the Mary MacKillop Catholic College Annual Walkathon Appeal, 600 students braved the weather on a cool August day and set off to walk a distance of 10km along part of the South Gippsland Rail trail. The objective was to raise $16,000 to donate to a variety of causes that do not normally receive government funding or sponsorship. It was done to replicate and carry on the work of our patron St. Mary MacKillop who, with her Sisters of Saint Joseph, braved all kinds of weather and circumstances to bring education to the most disadvantaged children of the bush communities of Australia in the 19th Century. Including a few others, ZOE Foundation Australia was our charity of choice.

We started the day appropriately as Mary MacKillop would have liked, by celebrating the Eucharist as a College. Our Justice Captains then took the whole school for some fun games and merriment. Years 7, 8, 11 and 12 walked first from Koonwarra and were followed by Years 9 and 10. Many teachers and parents were positioned at strategic sites along the walk to provide safety, reassurance and some valuable encouragement.The walk itself took about two hours per student and many staff joined in as well. All students were served refreshments and were able to make a gold coin donation for a hot chocolate after the walk had been completed.

The active support of the walkathon by students, families and staff was outstanding. Everyone is to be thanked for their involvement and efforts to raise the required total. The College community can be proud of its achievement – not only did we reach our target but surpassed it by a further $2500. Undoubtedly, the funds raised will make a real difference towards achieving justice and dignity for those most in need, like the children rescued by the ZOE Foundation from a life of endless servitude and exploitation. We were able to present Daniela from the ZOE Foundation with a cheque for $4,750 which will most certainly be put to good use. We look forward to a continued relationship ZOE Foundation supporting the rewarding work that they do.

Written by Peter Charles - teacher at Mary MacKillop Catholic College

 

August 30, 2015 - Comments Off on An invitation to ‘Interaction’

An invitation to ‘Interaction’

Trafficking is an issue we need to increase the awareness of. Since our geography curriculum "Child trafficking – a case of human wellbeing" was produced, we've been excited to share it with many Australian schools via the Geography Teachers' Association of Victoria (GTAV) conference! After the conference in 2014, we were invited  to contribute to "Interaction", the GTAV’s quarterly journal to members.
See our feature at this link: Interaction December 2014_ZOE Foundation Australia.

GTAVgtavgtable

In 2015, we were excited that 141 geography teachers received our resources to help educate their students
about human wellbeing and trafficking. Thanks to our wonderful volunteers, Gary and Sonia, over the
two day conference as they worked alongside Dani.

Untitled design

May 13, 2015 - Comments Off on Transitioning…

Transitioning…

The odds are stacked against the more than 9,000 young people who age out of foster care in Australia each year. A recent report from Swinburne University states, “50% of those who left state care at 18 years old would be homeless, in prison, unemployed or a new parent within 12 months of leaving care”. (ABC News)

Now whilst the ZOE Children’s Homes is not the same as the foster care system, as you can imagine, there can be similar challenges when children finish school and start to head out by themselves into the big wide world!! Whilst we recognize that the transition to university or work must occur, we do not want to see any of our children unprepared for independent living or feeling like they are suddenly all alone.

As ZOE means LIFE, we want to see all our kids succeed through life’s transitions. We want them to go on to become successful, happy adults in their chosen career, following their dreams, loving LIFE and living it to the full.

ZOE’s Transitional Program (TP) aims to offer guidance and support to young adults leaving the children’s home and moving forward with their education, or work, goals.  

The TP is based at the Transitional House in the city.  The house is in a central location and close to all the main universities.  The program offers:

  • tutoring/ study assistance
  • English language classes
  • spiritual mentoring/ weekly prayer and Bible study
  • social get-togethers and opportunities to have fun
  • accountability
  • a safe and comfortable place to “hang-out” and bring university friends or study groups.

We are so excited about this new program and so are ZOE kids that are already a part of it along with the ones coming through the Life Skills program, leading up to transition.   

We look forward to updating you more about the house and the program as it develops further!

TH Collage 2