This was by far the most fun day of the program to date! Leaving after breakfast in our monstrous double-decker bus, we headed for the Baan Jing Jai Children’s House. All we had been told was that we had a few hours to spend there, and the onus was on us to organise and coordinate activities with the children. Again, I was unsure about what to expect, especially because I have never really been a kid person!
The Children’s Home originated as the Children and Youth Development Project under the supervision of the Church of Christ in Thailand. The object of this Project is to provide assistance, shelter, and educational and developmental skills to children who are underprivileged, street children, abused children, violated children, children from impoverished families, orphaned and abandoned children.
The Home presently cares for 80 children from the ages of 9 months to 18 years. There are no formally qualified staff, but house parents provide counselling, encouragement, love and care. Within the home, children receive the necessary skills and training for their daily lives, communal living and confidence. The children are provided with numerous activities including cooking, household duties, crafts, music and swimming. The children receive formal education in the school system (some are sponsored by private bilingual schools but most go to public schools), and can go on to vocational training according to their interests. Baan Jing Jai strives to fulfill the dreams and future of children and hope children are one day able to return to their own society and make notable contributions.
The premises currently consists of 2 rented houses located on either side of a small street. The boys sleep in one house that is next to the play yard, and the girls and younger children sleep in the bigger house that contains a small living room and kitchen.
Purpose of Baan Jing Jai Children’s Home:
· Provide the basic needs of the child
· Ensure all children receive a good education, both inside and outside of the school system
· Development and support of the children’s confidence and self-esteem
· Development and support of the children’s talents and special needs
For a few hours, we were left to play with the kids. Games and activities included music chairs, tunnel ball, skipping, bubble blowing, hair braiding, colouring-in, and dancing! An elephant even wandered down the street! We were also lucky enough to share lunch with the children, and had the children hold our hands and lead us to our table. It was such a wonderful feeling again being so welcomed and accepted, and the children thrived off our energy.
On a deeper reflection, it could be seen that the capacity for holistic care was most certainly limited, especially with the Home not having any qualified staff and no stable accommodation. I am interested to know how health care is provided and followed-up as many children exhibited congestive illnesses, and the brochure outlined that the Home cares for children infected with HIV. Learning this opened up a bigger inquiry for investigation… Is sexual health education provided? How are there individualised needs met? Who ensures and grants access to appropriate medication (ARVs)? Is there any form of infection control or segregation, with well-children mingling with potentially immunocompromised children? Are children provided necessary vaccinations? At what stage of an illness is the doctor contacted? Also, a 16 year old orphan has a baby of her own, both living at the orphanage. From a nursing perspective, I can’t help but wonder what level of care, support and education she was provided.
Obviously the level of care is very different and not comparable to that of a hospital, where, especially in the private hospitals, well-children are separated from sick-children. Understandably, this segregation is probably not possible at the orphanage. However, each child still has individualised health priorities and needs, even more so when it comes to infectious diseases and their sequalae (such as tuberculosis). So who is promoting health care? And what are the regulations for facilities such as this?
Despite all the smiles, it is obvious that there is a lot that needs to be developed and regulated – education, qualifications, guidelines, health care, transport… At the end of the day, I still do not doubt the work that Khun Pingta does for the children, and I am glad that children from disadvantaged backgrounds are such happy and loving individuals.
Karina, Health for Wealth 2013, Thailand
This is an excerpt from Karina’s blog Prime the Line. Check it out to read more about her experience in Thailand on the Health for Wealth Program.