MERCY CENTER – HISTORY & STRATEGY
The work of MERCY began in the year 2000 with our growing desire to help the “street children” of Pattaya. There are the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of children and youth who live most of their young lives “at risk”, as a result of direct abuse, severe neglect, or the danger of being swallowed up in the life threatening environment of crime, drugs and sexual abuse that surrounds them on a daily basis.
We hired a Thai social worker with 12 years experience working with the destitute in refugee camps and community development projects to conduct a city wide survey. She identified the street children, and helped us determine the safest, most effective way to help them.
INITIAL RESEARCH REVEALED MOST CHILDREN ON THE PATTAYA STREETS WERE IN ONE OF THREE MAJOR CATEGORIES:
1. Those controlled by organized crime: These children could be in danger if we approached directly on the street. The best things we could do for this group was to buy what they were selling, be a friend, provide a meal when we could, let them know they are not alone, and have someone out on the street ourselves to ‘watch over them’.
2. Illegal aliens begging or selling on the streets: It’s dangerous to draw attention to them as they often have someone ‘managing’ them. What we can do to help this unfortunate group of children is also very limited. In addition to buying whatever they are selling, we visit local police lock-up centers to provide food, clean water and other necessities for the children when they are caught by the police and locked up waiting for deportation.
3. Runaways or wanderers from destitute families unable or unwilling to care for them: This group has the greatest potential for both successful short-term intervention and long term change. Most of these children live in chumchon areas.* Some have a parent working in bars or other extremely low-paying jobs; others have been completely abandoned, while still more are left with someone to care for them with the promise of money that never comes. Many of these children live with daily drugs, alcohol, hunger, loneliness, fear, PLUS the risk of even greater abuse.
Our social worker met with other agencies in our desire not to duplicate services, yet still reach the most destitute children in the most effective way possible. With the co-operation of local police and welfare authorities, she identified and visited the 14 registered chumchon areas in the city, PLUS many smaller even more destitute ‘unregistered’ areas where people of all ages and circumstances live huddled under trees or in cardboard, plastic and tin makeshift huts.
Many of the unregistered areas have no water, no electricity, often living among the garbage they collect for recycling. For the children living in such terrible circumstances, as they grow older, the ‘streets’ seemed a better or sometimes the only option available to them. As they ‘wander the streets’ the risks increase.
We began regular visits to these more desperate areas to get to know the people personally, show them love and acceptance, plus provide water, food, clothes and emergency medical care as needed. During our visits we found rampant alcohol and drug abuse, glue sniffing, prostitution, and other crimes which children were drawn into.
Even the children that do have family members caring for them seldom develop healthy relationship skills. All the children lack even the most basic training in acceptable social behavior, which is so important in Thailand. This lack of training in their own culture even further limits any hope they may have of a better future. Most of these children facing daily hardships from lack of safe water to drink or clean water to bath, little food, no protection, no medical care, and sadly, very little love.
In the un-registered areas, the land-owners often force the slum dwellers to move unexpectedly, causing us to lose track of the children. This means even less likelihood of anyone providing for their safety or well-being. Without immediate and drastic intervention, these children will grow up to continue the cycle of poverty and abuse.
SHORT TERM AND LONG TERM OBJECTIVES:
1. Provide emergency shelter for the care and protection of children at risk.
2. Provide educational, moral, social and spiritual training for severely under-privileged children.
3. Facilitate emotional healing and build a sense of personal value and hope for the future in each child.
4. Provide support services where possible to facilitate any needed long-term change in children’s guardianship.
5. Undertake strategic projects among the poor to help bring community transformation in chumchon airat areas.
6. Network with local organizations with similar goals.
* Chumchon airat is a Thai phrase that refers to an area where a larger number of poor people live closely together.
It has a lot more dignity for the people who live there … and is much preferred over the use of the word ‘slums’.
1. Individual children at risk of direct abuse or abuse by neglect who have no one else to protect & provide for them.
2. Mothers with small children who ask for help to stay together, and who are willing to make the necessary changes to work to provide for their own practical needs, plus receive training to raise their children with hope for a future..
3. Children within families & communities who are potentially at risk of direct abuse or abuse by neglect..
1. Conduct surveys as needed to prepare (and maintain) reports showing areas of practical needs, current services available, PLUS any gaps in service. Develop a recommended ‘prioritized action plan’.
2. Network within the Thai and international communities to access critical resources to help meet the practical and financial needs of the various Mercy projects.
3. Network with other welfare, social, educational organizations with similar purposes to share information, to make the best use of available resources and avoid duplication of services.
4. Establish Early Learning Centers / Day Cares (No-cost or low-cost) in every chumchon area where there is need.
5. Provide opportunities for Thai and international people to work together in various projects, promoting friendship, partnership, unity and facilitating access to greater resources in order to meet the practical project needs.
6. Provide support services to facilitate long term change with the goals of returning the shelter children to their guardians & care-givers.
- Severely at risk children we serve through MERCY Center will:
1. Be protected from the risk of drugs, alcohol, physical and sexual abuse.
2. Be provided with daily living needs, basic medical care and be treated as persons of value.
3. Receive social and moral training & education resulting in potentially good citizenship in adult years.
• Families of the children we serve through MERCY Center, plus MERCY Chum Chon Air At * Project will:
1. Short term: Receive assistance with basic necessities of life (food, water, emergency medical care)
2. Long term: Receive encouragement, training in childhood development, parenting & family building skills, to work toward a better future for themselves and their children.
3. Long term: Be required to contribute in some form (financial or service) toward the care of their children who live at MERCY Center, to promote parental responsibility and personal accountability.
TIMING: MERCY Center projects are planned as ongoing, to continue as long as need exists and resources permit.
FINANCES: MERCY Center is supported by voluntary donations from a variety of sources. Financial supporters who desire a report may make their request in writing to MERCY Center office.
- The various projects of MERCY Center are directed by a management team which is directly accountable to the Victory Family Church Board of Directors, and their appointed representative. VFC is officially registered with the Evangelical Fellowship of Thailand under Christ to Thailand Mission. (See MERCY Organizational Chart)
- MERCY is affiliated with Hope For The Nations, and Global Care, both international organizations working around the world with ‘children at risk’.
MERCY Center is an authorized charity project of Goodwill Foundation – Thailand Registration ?? 24 / 2548