RIGHTS FOR ALL (RFA)

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The Rights For All Programme seeks to empower sectors of the Burmese migrant population in Thailand who are particularly isolated and stigmatized, namely youth, women, migrant families and migrants in times of physical or mental crisis.


Background:

All migrants experience hardships and dangers in Thailand and have difficulty exercising their rights, but certain sectors are even more vulnerable to discrimination, marginalization, and abuse with impunity.  Women from Burma experience violence in Burma, on their journey to Thailand and while living and working in Thailand. Migrant youth fall between different sets of non-matching policies, regarding working age, access to education, etc. Because of the dire economic and political situation in Burma, people migrate with their families, and thus need to be able to access services and facilities and documentation for families including birth registration, schooling, qualifications etc. The situation in Burma also means that migrants have very poor health when they arrive and then work in hard conditions thus further exposing them to injuries and diseases. While they may be able to access medical assistance in hospitals, they also require safe places to stay between hospital appointments or during recuperation.


CRISIS SUPPORT/EMERGENCY HOUSE

MAP strives to support migrants who are facing crises. While in a middle of a crisis, often without family support and at risk of losing their accommodation if unable to work, it can be an extremely intimidating process for migrants to navigate the governmental systems in Thailand, with complicated bureaucratic procedures, language barriers and high costs. MAP helps to direct migrants in the health care system, likewise providing interpreters for the hospitals and visiting those in need. This project has been running since MAP’s very beginning,over 15 years ago. The Crisis Support Officer isnow well known in the migrant community. Information is given through a hotline called “The migrants line” and home visits are done to give support.

From 1996 to 2013 MAP managed an Emergency House called Ban 60. Baan 60 had to close due to a lack of funds. The centre was a place for people in need to recover from illness or long term hospital treatment,  somewhere they could stay while regaining physical and mental strengths.

The Emergency House opened in response to hospitalsrequest. Migrants who become ill or face other emergenciesand are in need of safe accommodation and care, often consequently lose both their jobs and accommodation because they live at the work place. The emergency house has helped more than 1 500 people throughout the years. People usually stayed one to two months and the house was able to host 30-40 migrants at a time. In addition to general care, the emergency house used to hold Thai classes and activities for children, workshop on HIV AIDS, family planning, etc.

You can read more about the emergency house here:




WOMEN'S EXCHANGE

 

 

On international Women’s Day 1999, migrant and refugee women from different ethnic backgrounds came together in an informal setting to arrange a time and space where they could meet, exchange and discuss ideas, and also have fun as a group. These women wanted to understand the different issues affecting women in different circumstances and wanted to explore women’s roles in their families, communities, societies and the world. They agreed to meet once a month to continue the work that they were doing and started the Women’s Exchange Program. Women who attended the first meetings in Chiang Mai moved on to other places, and brought what they had learned at Women’s Exchange to their new hometowns. Now there are Women’s Exchange meetings happening in around 20 locations along the Thai-Burma border, with around 20-40 women attending every meeting.

 

During these exchanges, Burmese migrant and refugee women of different ethnicities and backgrounds come together to share their experiences and learn from each other. Women in the groups share how they personally have dealt with different challenging experiences and went on to improve their situations. These groups give the women a space to learn and share. Discussion topics include sexual and reproductive health and rights, domestic violence, migration issues, violence against migrant women, labor rights, family life, among many other things. In any Women’s Exchange meeting where a case of domestic violence or rape is disclosed. MAP has recourses to provide the women with support. The women can also invite guest speakers or friends to facilitate special sessions on topics that the group would be interested in. These meetings are organized by the women in the group, for the women in the group.

 

Once a year, around Internation Women’s Day (March 8th), representatives from all of the local Women Exchange groups meet at the Annual Women Exchange Get Together in Chiang Mai. The Women Exchange Get together became a time when women, who we usually isolated by their work, could meet other women, along with regional and international women’s networks. There are plenary sessions and skill building workshops, women learn about a large range of helpful topics that they can bring back and share with their local Women Exchange groups. Around 150 women attend this event annually.

 

For a video testimony of the impact that Women Exchange and Women Exchange Get Together events, clink on the link and watch this video. Also, click on this link for a coverage of the International Women’s Day March in 2016.

 

Along with the Women Exchange group meetings, the Women’s Exchange program facilitated over 600 migrant and refugee women living on the Thai-Burma border to be involved in the proccess of developing a ten step program, Automatic Response Mechanism (ARM). ARM helps to support women who have been victims of sexual abuse. ARM was released in 2003 and updated in 2008. ARM is a resource for the migrant community, NGO’s, the police, hospitals and crisis centers, the court of law and any other parties that are involved or interested. It has been used as a reference book, a training manual and an advocacy tool. Nearly 10,000 copies of ARM in Thai, Burmese, Karen, Shan and English have been distributed.

 

Please, check out the hyperlinks for any additional information!

 




EDUCATION & IDENTITY

MAP works with migrant families to ensure they can fulfil their potential, and exercise their rights by accessing necessary services, facilities and legal documentation. In an effort to protect the rights of migrant children and migrant youth, MAP spreads information aboutthe birth registration of children, facilitates access to Thai schools for migrant children in accordance with Thai's "Education for All" policy and participates in a national network which meets regularly, with the objective to include migrant schools in the ordinary school system. In addition, MAP seeks to educate youth about their labour rights and special protections under labour law. According to a survey published in 2012, 40 % of children of undocumented migrants did not attend any school.

In 2013, MAP assisted 107 migrant children to get Burmese and Thai birth registrations and managed to provide 36 scholarships for children to attended primary school.

See our video Weaving Dreams While Traveling


 

 

MIGRANT YOUTH & EMPOWERMENT

 

This project started in 2012, because of the great needs of the migrant community in previously neglected rural areas. Together with the Foundation for Education and Development (FED), MAP reached out to the migrant population in the rural areas aroundMae Sot such asPhobPhra and Mae Ramad Districts inTak Province. The project is contributing to the aim that children and youths belonging to the most-at-risk populations enjoy their rights to education, economic security, sexual and reproductive health, and protection from all forms of abuse, exploitation, and violence as well as from disasters. However, in the project area, migrantchildren and their families are in a situation where they lack most basic rights, and a holistic approach to address their basic and essential needs must be applied. The project uses many ways to inform the migrant community about their rights and opportunities. MAP considers the access to information as the first step towards empowerment and capacity building.

 

Since the start, we have managed to open five Drop in Centres (DIC), offering counselling services, information, books among other services. The centres also provide information on contraceptives and family planning counselling. One DIC is located in Maesot prison, where MAP conductsmuch appreciated monthlyhealth workshops.

 

In 2013, a 100 parents’ meetings, 90 outreach visits and 34 community workshops have been held on topics like sexual and reproductive health and rights, occupational health and safety, children education, domestic violence, copying stress, seasonal disease, workplace situation and so on. Computer training and youth campsare conducted to empower the migrant youth.

 

MAP community radio has also been important in this project, to reach out and inform the migrant community in these rural areas. 

 


SAFE SCHOOLS PROGRAM

MAP’s Safe Schools Program is an initiative that seeks to empower migrant schools in the Mae Sot area with the skills to adapt to the effects of climate change and respond effectively in the event of a disaster. The program is in its second year, and is run at 3 schools that are run by, and for, the Burmese migrant community living on the Thai-Myanmar border. Each of the 3 schools receives a full-day workshop once a month, and a new workshop is organized every three months on a topic selected by MAP staff in coordination with the school administrators. Previous topics covered by the Safe Schools Program have included earthquake and flood preparedness, and for this month’s workshop, fire safety was the chosen topic.

For this month’s fire safety workshop, MAP staff teamed up with the Mae Sot Fire Department to teach children and teachers about the elements of fire, what safety protocols to follow in the event of a school fire, and how to stop a fire using a fire extinguisher or alternative methods. In the morning session, the two firefighters gave an engaging talk on fire and fire safety, which was translated from Thai into Burmese by MAP staff for the students and teachers. In the afternoon session, students and teacher were able to apply their learning in a practical setting under the supervision and guidance of the visiting fire fighters. The students and teachers practiced fire safety protocols during a simulation, and also practiced using a fire extinguisher. MAP staff donated a fire extinguisher to the school for future use in case of an emergency.

The migrant school where the event took place this month is responsible for 370 students, ranging from toddlers to young adolescents. The children come from migrant families living in rural areas along the border that are particularly vulnerable to the devastating consequences of natural disasters. The school’s director believes that the knowledge gained through the Safe Schools Program is beneficial to both students and teachers because it can be practically applied in the school setting and in their homes. According to the school director, most families in the migrant community use fire to prepare food in their homes—which are largely constructed using flammable materials—so this month’s fire safety workshop is particularly useful for the community.

The Safe Schools Program is looking forward to organizing future workshops at participating schools, with upcoming topics such as clean water and sanitation, as well as how to make emergency clothing out of everyday materials.

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MAP staff and students at the fire safety workshop.

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MAP staff and children taking a brief break to play a fun game during the fire safety workshop.

 

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A Mae Sot firefighter walking a student through how to use a fire extinguisher.

 

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A Mae Sot firefighter engages students in learning about the elements of fire. 

 

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