The four-year-old Meah* was left behind by her own mother at Surat Thani shelter in southern Thailand in March 2015. Back in December 2014, Meah, her mother, and her baby sister were caught by the Thai police and transferred there. It must have been extremely hard to see her mother walking away with her little baby sister as they were trying to escape from the shelter to reunite with her other family members. A month afterwards, Meah was referred to Phang Nga shelter and has been under their care until now.
Her father is in Malaysia with her older brother and older sister. Together with her mother and younger sister, they left Myanmar on a journey to join their father and other siblings. But before making it to Malaysia, the family landed in Thailand and were brought to the Surat Thani shelter as trafficking victims. After Meah’s mother left her there, she says she feels desperate and misses her family very much. All she wants is to be with them again. “When will I be able to get out of here and be with my family?” she asked an unanswered question.
However, when asked what she would say to her parents if she could contact them, she replied immediately: “I want to tell dad not to hit mom.” Meah tells the shelter staff that her father hits her mother very often and she does not like it at all. All in all, she still wants to be with them as Save the Children is currently providing psychosocial support and hygiene education activities to the children in the shelters in the south of Thailand. Some of the activities include story-telling as part of the reading club, constructing paper dolls, and body mapping.
The shelter staff said that Meah started to take better care of herself after she attended the body-mapping activity. Before that, she did not like to take a shower or be cleaned. But now she takes a showers every day and brushes her teeth without anyone telling her to do so. a family.
At the Phang Nga shelter, Meah has been looked after by another mother of two other children at the shelter. She said that although the lady is looking after her quite well, she does not always get things when distributions arrive. The lady would give new clothes and other things to her children first. She envies them and wishes that her mother was there to give her the priority too.
Save the Children is currently providing psychosocial support and hygiene education activities to the children in the shelters in the south of Thailand. Some of the activities include story-telling as part of the reading club, constructing paper dolls, and body mapping.
From these activities Save the Children staff have noticed signs that Meah often seeks attention. It is understandable that a small child who was separated from her mother and family would pursue attachment and affection from anyone she meets. However, this is worrying as she reaches out to strangers and it could be dangerous. To help solve this problem, Save the Children is in discussion with the shelter Director to find ways to protect her from any potential harm.
Save the Children provides psychological support to all children including Meah through activities and individual counseling for those in need by a team of psychiatrists and specialists. This activity will help children to release their tensions and stress and be able to see the value in themselves. These skills are important now, and even more in the future as what lies ahead for them is so uncertain.
(* indicates that the name has been changed to protect identity)