On Friday November 1, one of Childhood’s partner organisations in Thailand is finally opening a shop in Bangkok. Peuan Peuan (Good friends) focuses on protecting and reintegrating children and youth on the streets of Bangkok. Childhood has for the last four years supported their outreach work in squatter areas, street outreach, a multilingual hotline and work in the government shelters where arrested street children are placed.
The children Peuan Peuan meet come from different countries, have different backgrounds and meet different obstacles in leaving the high risk environment on the streets of Bangkok. An experience most share, however, is the breakdown of the household. Peuan Peuan’s ambition is to reintegrate children when possible and is therefore also working to strengthen families by helping them boost incomes.
Since 2009, Peuan Peuan has offered caretakers a concrete opportunity to earn an income by producing design products that are sold in shops, restaurants and hotels. To further increase sales a plan to open a shop similar to those in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap has been in the pipeline for a few years. Opening a shop in Bangkok has proved challenging, however, not least due to the high rents but also due to the size of Bangkok with tourists scattered over town. It is therefore very promising that the Friends ‘n’ Stuff shop is now finally ready to open in the Sukhumvit area of downtown Bangkok. The same building also contains offices and a training centre where targeted family members will be given initial training in the production process. Following this, participants will produce a certain number of products per week thus receiving an income.
Make sure to visit the shop on your next visit in Bangkok. The address is: 3/8 Soi Sukhumvit 49, Sukhumvit Rd (BTS Thong Lo).
The training center above the shop
The shop was not quite ready during Childhood’s visit in September
Sweden is one of the countries that rank highest in the world when it comes to child wellbeing. Education and healthcare is free for all children. Pre-school is not expensive. The standard of living is high compared to most countries Childhood works in. Corporal punishment was forbidden more than thirty years ago and children are expected to be treated with respect. But still, children’s mental health is deteriorating. And one particularly vulnerable group, in Sweden as well as in all other countries, is children growing up in families where one or both parents abuse drug or alcohol or have a mental illness. Childhood has for several years supported an organization called “Maskrosbarn” founded by two young women who themselves grew up under such circumstances. With lots of love, courage and commitment they have now developed a strong organization that every year offers Summer-camps that combines information and support with fun summer activities and a supportive network to almost hundred teenagers from families with abuse and mental illness. They organize cozy Friday evenings, support groups and much more for this group of children. Most of the children have had (more or less) contact with the social services. Some have been removed from their families and are in continuous contact with different authorities. Others have asked for support but have not received it. When Maskrosbarn gathered the experiences from these children through focus groups and interviews it became quite clear that they too often lacked information about what rights they actually have in society and that they too often felt that adults did not listen to them and did not take their opinions into considerations, for example when deciding about interventions. Maskrosbarn has recently launched a campaign called “Pimp my soc”. The message is that through a few non-expensive measures based on the views of children, the social services can become much more child friendly and better equipped to reach this group – both when it comes to attitude and environment. Some of the messages from the youth to the social workers are quite simple, but really important – Show that you care! Listen! and Treat me with respect!
This is what children very often see when visiting the social services, according to Maskrosbarn.
This is what a child friendly room could look like, according to Maskrosbarn.
The map of Cekcyn district in Poland shows the number of children living in at-risk families known to the local social services. Comenius Foundation, with support from Childhood, is developing a pilot model for preventing social exclusion of at-risk families with young children in rural areas. There are various free options for younger children in the district: day-care, pre-school, kindergartens. The problem is that at-risk parents and their children do not attend. The main challenges are accessibility/transportation as well as parents’ motivation and attitudes. Out of a total of 496 children 0-6, 117 are on the social services list of children living in families in need of financial and/or social support. By using individual approaches and actively encouraging at-risk parents to attend activities with their children, making sure that they feel welcome and supported, parents are developing positive parental skills and closer bonds with their children.