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January 2, 2017 - Comments Off on FAMILY ASSESSMENT: In the best interest of the whole family

FAMILY ASSESSMENT: In the best interest of the whole family

Upon hearing the good news, “They found her family,” you could mistakenly think, well, that was easy! But what most people don’t realise is that, just like a rescue mission to find a child, searching and finding a child’s family members can be just as difficult.

Through winding dusty roads in desperate need of repair, narrow turns, and steep mountainous terrain, the travel was difficult for this case, even for the experienced ZOE social work team. It would turn out to be a long and arduous journey.

Aoy* was rescued and brought to ZOE when she was just a small girl but now this bright young lady is about to finish her schooling with plans to study at university in the coming years. As she approaches adulthood, she has so many questions and seeks answers about her past.

At ZOE, the social work team is continuously doing Family Assessments. In Aoy’s case, they had been working with the small pieces of information that they had to search for family members on her father’s side. Aoy has never met them before and the team had little to go on as to where to find them.

After many ups and downs and tiny clues to follow, the team was finally able to locate her family. Her grandparents also had many questions, and the team was able to explain to them how ZOE had taken care of Aoy all these years.

 

Of course, Aoy was delighted at the news that her relatives had been found.

 

It was the missing jigsaw piece in the puzzle of her life. She too had many questions to ask and stories to share. Since the ZOE social work team found her family members, Aoy has been able to go and meet them and more visits have been planned for the upcoming school break.

For the ZOE social work team, it may be another case closed but for Aoy it has opened up the door to the many questions she had about her background and origin.

 

 

reunite

*Not her real name

December 31, 2016 - Comments Off on In the best interest (and safety) of each child

In the best interest (and safety) of each child

 

Everything the ZOE Child Rescue team does, is done in the best interest and safety of each child.

We all rejoice when a child is rescued but one of the hardest, yet most important, tasks for the ZOE Child Rescue team comes when they begin preparing a child for being a witness in court -and making sure that they can keep the child safe.

For the team at ZOE, stopping perpetrators from hurting more children is a necessary step in fighting child-trafficking.

The team needs to help prepare the child both mentally and physically. The important issues of each case are thoroughly reviewed and in doing so, it helps to reduce a child's anxiety and apprehension. The team also meets to ensure that the child's physical security needs are met by analysing the risk and severity of the case. The team then discuss known details about the suspect and their last known whereabouts.

Toward the end of 2016, taking children to court became very challenging for the social work team. So much so that the team were required to formulate a new security plan, by setting up a protective guard program, while traveling to court.

The team took children to court for ten cases. Some of these children were living at a government shelter whilst others came to the ZOE Children’s Homes.

All case management is done in conjunction with the multidisciplinary team.

For some of the protected children in these cases, their court trial is not yet finished.

security

 

April 11, 2016 - Comments Off on What is child advocacy?

What is child advocacy?

In 2015 the ZOE Child Rescue team provided 967 hours of child advocacy.

For those of you who may wonder just what child advocacy involves … something that is very complex can be simply explained in terms of management, referrals and procedures.

More specifically child advocacy includes many aspects such as:

  • managing court protection and preparing ZOE children for Court Hearings
  • managing transportation and protection of ZOE children for police interviews
  • managing family assessments and maintaining communication with ZOE children’s families
  • liaising with ZOE children’s schools
  • working towards procurement of citizenship for ZOE children
  • arranging family visits for ZOE children
  • facilitating medical checks / visits for ZOE children
  • investigation of child referrals and assessment
  • victim screening including Multi-Disciplinary Team meetings about each child's case
  • facilitating victim compensation meetings and repatriation procedures
  • responding to social work requests from the ZOE think tank team

 

When we stop and think about it, 967 hours doesn't really seem much. The issue ought not to be just how many children are being rescued — but more significantly how many more lives are there who need rescuing? The need is great and that why we are here!

May we not get too caught up in statistics or the issues of management, referrals and procedures; but let us focus on the task at hand - the needs of that one child who is valuable and precious in need of rescuing.#torescueoneisworthit

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

 

October 6, 2015 - Comments Off on Bookworm Bliss

Bookworm Bliss

In April 2015, we celebrated the Grand Opening of the ZOE Library.  Our goal is to instil a love of reading in the ZOE kids.  Although our library has several hundred books, both Thai and English, there was no one to oversee and set up a system for reading and borrowing.

Bronwyn Maidment with ZOE Teachers_Mike and Carol Hart and David Cross

Now from 1pm - 2pm each day, any ZOE child, leadership training student or staff member can visit the library and borrow one book at a time for up to 2 weeks. An added blessing has been that a few of the kids have taken such an interest in the library that they serve as the resident librarians and take pride in tiding up the room, organizing the bookshelves and checking out the books.  It is such a joy to see kids lounging in bean bag chairs reading their favourite stories.

Coming soon….“Story time” and maybe even a class on children’s book writing.

4

Written by Cissy Boyer - ZOE Language School Manager

October 1, 2015 - Comments Off on The difference you are making…

The difference you are making…

It was one of those beautiful Thailand mornings. The sun was just beginning to break through the clouds as I drove up into the hills on my way to the ZOE Children’s Home.

Entering ZOE, I greeted the guards and headed toward the car park. As I drove along the gravel roadway, my car received a light coating of orange dust that was coming from the garden area on my left. I looked across to where this dust was coming from and there I saw Wonchai (one of the ZOE dad’s) carefully making his way along one of the garden beds with the new Rototiller.

Slowing down to almost a stop, I paused for a moment and smiled. I realised that it was just months before that I had sent a request to get that very piece of machinery funded by ZOE Foundation Australia. Stopping for that moment to see it actually being used, preparing the ground for the next season of crops, filled my heart with gratitude for all those $5, $10 and $50 donations that were combined for the purchase. This is a fantastic ‘tool’ that will help to provide food for all the children at ZOE.

#Self-Sustainability

August 23, 2015 - Comments Off on Survival Story: Jungle Boy

Survival Story: Jungle Boy

The hill tribe life in Thailand is tough under the best of circumstances.  Isolated by washed out, treacherous mountain roads, hours from electricity or paved streets, the people of the hills live a hardscrabble life.  Food comes by the sweat of hard labour, while creature comforts are rare indeed.

For a little boy with no mum or dad, a hot bowl of rice or a dry place to sleep during the cold mountain rains was a luxury only dreamed of. Orphaned at 6, Yindee spent a year living in the mountain jungle, silently slipping in and out of villages under the cover of night to forage for scraps. Nobody in the village wanted another mouth to feed but someone got word to ZOE about the “jungle boy.”

Suffice it to say that the process of bringing Yindee to ZOE was not easy.  His clothes were so filthy and flea-infested, we literally had to burn them. His matted hair was shaved completely off to rid him of lice.  He had to be washed no less than three times before he was clean.

When he arrived at ZOE, Yindee didn’t speak; he growled.  When everyone else sat down to eat, he would grab his food off the plate and run away to hide while he ate.  It took days before he was convinced that no one would take his food from him.

It truly is amazing how quickly transformation came.  Yindee soon was running around laughing and playing with the kids.  He finally consented to sleeping in his bed rather than under it.  One day, not long after arriving, Yindee walked up to a staff member.  Bowing low in a deep wai, he said “Thank you for saving me.”  Hugging him tight, the staffer said “Yindee, you should thank God, not me.”  He looked in her eyes and said “I already have.  And now I’m thanking you!”

The little jungle boy who didn’t read, write, or smile had truly come home!

 

THESE STORIES ARE TRUE. THE NAMES OF THE CHILDREN HAVE BEEN CHANGED TO PROTECT THEIR IDENTITY AND DIGNITY.

July 12, 2015 - Comments Off on Meals at ZOE just got ‘mush’ better!

Meals at ZOE just got ‘mush’ better!

In 2014, we created our very own mushroom hut. Thanks to the funding from ZOE Foundation Australia, we’ve been able to build this new hut designed for trapping moisture and darkness - which is essential for the proper cultivation of mushrooms. We’re expecting over 1000kg of mushrooms each year! This will be a valuable source of fiber, protein, and iron, and also provide the needed nutrition to all the kids.

Lastly, the new hut is so nice that the men have considered moving our offices out there. It would become the fun-guy hangout… although, on second thought, there wouldn’t be mush-room for all of us.

Written by Jonathan Degler - Vocational Program Coordinator