Forced migration is a critical issue in the region: some families migrate due to natural disasters or conflict, while others leave their rural homes in search of better opportunities in urban areas. Regardless of the circumstances, migrant children end up in the middle, caught between two cultures and communities. Children and youth who have multiple risk factors – ethnic minority status, disability, living or working on the streets or in a rural area – are the least likely to have access to basic services like education and healthcare.
Our local partners in East and Southeast Asia work tirelessly to reach children who fall through the cracks of mainstream systems and services: rural girls go to school instead of being trafficked for labor or sex; children with disabilities receive the physical therapy and specialized education they need and deserve; children working at dumpsites find safe spaces where they can learn, eat nutritious meals, and access medical care. At the same time, our partners work to address the root causes of migration, discrimination, and poverty, building public awareness and advocating for better policies and protections.
At GFC, we are proud to fund some of the most innovative local organizations working with the young people of East and Southeast Asia. Your support is crucial to helping these organizations become stronger and sustainable.
Aziza’s Place / Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Aziza’s Place supports children and youth who are living and working in Phnom Penh’s dumpsites and city slums. The organization serves both girls and boys, but it places special emphasis on equipping girls with the education, skills, and support they need to thrive.
Without Aziza’s Place, many of these girls would spend their days sorting through trash to eke out a living. Instead, every day they have a safe place where they can get help with their homework, eat nourishing food, access healthcare, and take classes in creative arts like karate, dance, art, and music.
Aziza’s Place makes sure that all the girls enroll in school and offers additional tutoring to help them succeed. And succeed they do. The teen girls in the program are regularly ranked among the top 10 students in their class! Teens also receive tailored assistance to prepare them for adulthood, including career counseling and internship opportunities.
What makes Aziza’s Place most innovative is the organization’s commitment to community-based, family support. Instead of running an orphanage, Aziza’s Place keeps families together and provides them with financial support and professional counseling to ensure a safe and stable home environment. This family-care model – standing in direct contrast to the traditional institutional approach that is practiced throughout Cambodia – situates Aziza’s Place among our most innovative partners in the region.
Yayasan Sahabat Kapas / Surakarta, Indonesia
In Indonesia, a child who causes trouble is a child at risk of being incarcerated. Petty crimes such as stealing or fighting often give rise to a prison sentence. As a result, far too many of Indonesia’s children and youth are locked up instead of receiving the guidance, counseling, and attention they need to build healthy, productive lives.
Yayasan Sahabat Kapas is dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth in conflict with the law, many of whom have been incarcerated for mental health issues or minor crimes. Working in four detention and correctional facilities around the city of Surakarta, Sahabat Kapas provides incarcerated minors with weekly counseling, skills training, art activities, and literacy classes. Perhaps most importantly, Sahabat Kapas shows these incarcerated children and youth that they have the support of caring adults.
Once these young people are released, Sahabat Kapas works closely with them to ensure a successful reintegration. Connections to education, entrepreneurial opportunities, and family therapy services give each child the chance to make positive choices, while intensive counseling helps them develop stronger bonds with their families and communities.
Sahabat Kapas also provides legal aid to children and families and trains professionals involved in the juvenile justice system to improve policies and procedures. By working toward systemic change, this small but mighty organization is advancing rights and opportunities for generations of children to come.
Baan Nana / Mae Sai, Thailand
More than 2 million people have fled from Burma to Thailand to escape civil war and political violence. The town of Mae Sai is a major crossing point, and Burmese refugees settle here as they seek safety.
But whether living in refugee camps or on the streets, immigrant children do not have official legal status in Thailand, placing them at significant risk for trafficking, crime, drug abuse, and forced labor. If they do go to school, they often struggle with language barriers and discrimination.
Baan Nana serves undocumented and stateless children and youth on the Thai-Burma border, many of whom are members of the Akha people—an ethnic minority from Burma that has experienced extreme discrimination and violence for decades. Some are orphans, and many have faced neglect, abuse, and malnourishment. Baan Nana provides them with the basics that so many of us take for granted: food, clothing, and a safe place to live. The organization also offers academic scholarships to help the children go to school and get the education they righty deserve.
Baan Nana’s shelter uses a family-like model to give children a sense of belonging, security, and identity—invaluable assets for children who have been marginalized by society. The staff includes young people who lived at the shelter as children and who now want to help others like themselves.
Children’s Ger / Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Mongolia’s capital city of Ulaanbaatar has grown considerably in the past three decades, with many rural migrant families settling in the city’s ger districts: unplanned settlements made up of traditional Mongolian portable felt dwellings.
These families do not have access to clean water or gas for heating their homes, let alone quality schools. Widespread poverty and overcrowding in local schools drives many children in the ger districts to leave school to work. Others never enroll at school at all, since migrant children often lack the proper documentation to do so.
Responding to these dire needs, Children’s Ger ensures that children receive hot meals, showers, and winter clothing, as well as education and counseling to help them succeed in school and in life. The education program follows the national curriculum, and focuses on children who have been rejected by government schools because of their age, educational background, or physical or mental disabilities.
Operated by trained teachers, social workers, and volunteers, Children’s Ger is always looking for ways to support not just individual children, but entire families. By providing parents with financial support, the organization helps families meet their basic needs so that their children can attend school instead of working to earn a meager income. And in 2015, Children’s Ger started a preschool to serve the younger siblings of children in its education program. Together, these programs help break the familial cycle of poverty – affecting children today, and for generations to come.
Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.
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