2010 Thailand: Friends International Thailand
Author: Karen Rasmussen
Friends International was founded in Cambodia in 1994 with the aim of assisting marginalized children and youth, their families and their communities. Friends International now has programs in Laos, Thailand and Indonesia, and supports other organizations working with marginalized children in several other countries.
Friends initially began its work in Thailand in 2005 at the request of the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on human trafficking (UNIAP) to conduct a survey on Cambodian child beggars in Bangkok. The purpose of the research was to better understand Cambodian child beggar networks, with the specific aim of contributing to strategic responses to the problem.
From 2006, Friends International-Thailand (FITH) expanded its activities to providing direct services to vulnerable children and youth in Thailand, for children not only from Cambodia but other countries as well, including Thai, Burmese, Lao and Vietnamese. FITH works in collaboration with the Royal Thai Government, the Bangkok Municipal Administration, and other organizations. FITH took the Thai name Peuan Peuan, or ‘friends’ in Thai language.
Peuan Peuan works with street children/youth and diverse migrants (children, youth and their parents) detained in Royal Thai Government shelters, providing education, information and skills training and preparing for their repatriation and reintegration. Peuan Peuan also undertakes street and community-based outreach services and manages the Peuan Peuan centre (a full-time drop in center with regular activities in Aranyaprathet, and an emergency centre in Bangkok). In addition, Peuan Peuan provides skills-based training to parents through the Home Based Production initiative, as a means of increasing parents’ employment prospects upon return to their home country of origin (for migrants) and as an additional source of income for low-income families in squatter communities. Finally, the Child Safe Network is a coalition of hotels, guesthouses, and street-based workers who are trained to be aware of child protection issues and to report and assist children in need of protection to Peuan Peuan and/or other relevant services.
The purpose of this evaluation is to measure the impact of the support to migrant children, street children and other marginalized children in Thailand and to their families, as well as preventative support to individuals, families and communities.
The evaluation documents lessons learned, good practices and provides recommendations on how to improve project activities in the future. The results of the evaluation will be used in order to improve the running of the project and increase the impacts on beneficiaries.
• A review and analysis of available documents in order to analyze to what extend objectives and results planned are reached. All documents will be provided by Friends-International to the evaluator latest on the 1st day of the evaluation.
• Fields visits in Bangkok and Aranyaprathet - will be facilitated by Friends-International. The evaluator will join the FI teams and use their regular transportation modes (BTS, local bus, taxi…)
• Interviews with beneficiaries – will be facilitated by Friends-International with translation in the relevant language if needed (Thai, Khmer or Burmese)
• Interviews with key FI team members
• Interviews with key government partners – will be organized by Friends-International
• Interview with UNICEF – will be organized by Friends-International
Findings and Conclusions:
The results of the evaluation are summarized below:
a b c d
EFFECTIVENESS X X
SUSTAINABILITY X X
a: fully according to plan or better
b: on balance according to plan, positive aspects outweighing negative
c: not sufficiently according to plan, taking account of the evolving contect;
a few positive aspects but outweighed by negative aspects
d: seriously deficient, very few or no positive aspects
More detailed information can be found as the attached report.
1. Work in shelters
Some shelters (e.g. Ban Raitipung, Ban Mehta) don’t seem to have a child protection policy….and children at BR reported being hit by staff (evaluation with children 2010). Peuan Peuan needs to continue to advocate, in collaboration with UNICEF, for stronger child protection policies in these centers. Peuan Peuan staff seem to spend very little time spent at Ban Kretakarn and Ban Metta (only 2 hours/week in each)…consultant suggests spending more time in these centers, if possible. This may need to wait until more staff are hired, and until these centers know more about Peuan Peuan and feel comfortable having them work there. Guidebooks on working in centres have been created by Peuan Peuan, but not in collaboration with government staff…consultant recommends sharing these with senior officials, not only shelter staff. In fact, agreements on ‘guiding principles’ for working in the shelters has been reached, and a general training has been held. But more follow-up is needed. Staff in shelters reported that main benefit PP staff provides is language interpretation for non-Thai speakers…many don’t even know/understand what it is PP staff do with the mothers/children because they don’t participate. Peuan Peuan needs to continue high-level advocacy with government officials, with assistance from UNICEF, for shelter staff to be involved. Ban Mehta social worker (Ms. Chantima) said social workers there need more capacity on case management and follow-up/family reintegration skills for boys who are released back to their families. Consultant recommends that Peuan Peuan and UNICEF discuss this issue further and explore avenues for support and capacity-building. High/frequent turnover of shelter directors means the relationships need to be built all over again. Consultant recommends Peuan Peuan continue to cultivate relationships with Ministry-level officials to mitigate against this. UNICEF can and should assist with this. Consider collaborating with Save the Children Sweden in the area of Corporal Punishment, and promote these non-violent alternatives in shelters.
2. Community outreach
Staff need to ensure they always use gloves when doing first aid (staff doing street outreach in Aran forgot her gloves one time). Equipment checklists should be created and always used. Staff should ask children to help them put everything away when the session is done…some children helped, but all should be encouraged to. Very good – and important – that medical staff collects information from all children when treating them (name, age, nationality, etc). But it is not clear how much they can recall after treating several children, in order to make accurate notes. Consultant recommends reviewing this procedure. Peuan Peuan staff need to manage their time in communities – it is not ideal for staff to be in the communities after dark (difficult to walk around, many dogs, etc). Peuan Peuan should consider having staff bring along extra bars of soap, tiny bottles of iodine, to give to kids who have bad sores that need to be cleaned regularly (after receiving first aid treatment). Consultant recommends always posting rules for the children (e.g. no drugs, guns, fighting, etc.) when doing community and street outreach. Consultant recommends posting a schedule of regular activities in communities, whenever possible. IEC materials need to be standardized/finalized for Bangkok and Aranyaprathet, also localized for the Thai context and not just Cambodia.
3. Street outreach
There should always be at least one male staff member (mix of male and female)….for safety as well as if boys have questions re. reproductive health issues. Consultant recommend outreach staff always include feminine products (sanitary pads, tampons, etc) to hand out to girls who are menstruating and don’t have supplies. May also consider bringing along an ‘emergency’ set of pants, shirt, etc. Again, consultant is concerned about staff ability to recall all details of all children at the end of the outreach session. Peuan Peuan staff members need to try and invite BMA staff along on street outreach whenever possible. This may become easier once an MOU is signed. Staff need to ensure the place for doing street outreach is safe and well – lit (e.g. Aran – usually this area is lit up but for some reason the night I went with staff it wasn’t). Child – friendly evaluation of activities (smiley faces in box) – if staff really want to use this to gauge how children feel about the activity, then they will need to ensure each child is only putting one face in the box. IEC materials need to be standardized/finalized for Bangkok and Aranyaprathet.
4. Child Safe Network and Street Networks
The lack of a hotline is a significant challenge – members are asked to call one of three numbers, not clear which one should be given priority. The hotline began operating the week after this report was submitted – it is a hotline for all children, parents, communities and Child Safe members, not necessarily for the general public. This, however, is a very important development. IEC materials for street networks need to be finalized (e.g. depict several types of members, whether food vendor, moto taxi driver, etc.). Perhaps Child Safe Network staff members need clarification on availability of funds for materials.
5. Work in BMA centers/BMA staff
Consultant recommends raising again with senior BMA officials the importance of SOPs in centers. “Guiding principles” have been reached with BMA drop-in center staff, and a general training held, but these need to be followed up on. Drop in centers do not appear to have Codes of Conduct or a child protection policy. Consultant recommends FITH advocates together with UNICEF to have these policies in all drop-in centers. Some BMA staff have indicated an interest in case management training….consultant recommends exploring this further with senior-level officials. Recommend continuing to build closer collaboration with high-level BMA officials. Peuan Peuan should request assistance from UNICEF in finding ways to advocate for BMA staff to join in activities. It is a serious problem that the BMA staff have come to rely on Peuan Peuan staff to come to the centers to do activities for the children. This is not sustainable in the long run. BMA staff do not appear to be actively seeking out vulnerable children to come to the centre, even though extremely vulnerable children may be very close to the centre (e.g. Saphanput). UNICEF/Peuan Peuan should look at ways to provide support and empower BMA staff to do this. BMA staff appear to be weak in skills to work with children. rights-based (as opposed to charity) approach, case management esp. follow up, outreach, child protection and communication skills. Peuan Peuan could assist with this, but this needs to be discussed at a senior level, with UNICEF support. There appears to be a frequent or high turnover of BMA directors, making the long-term relationships difficult to maintain. Peuan Peuan should request assistance from UNICEF in maintaining these relationships. BMA staff seem to spend most of their time doing paperwork – even though Key Performance Indicators include spending time on casework, to them this doesn’t necessarily include working with children one-on-one. Bureaucracy means it’s difficult for the Peuan Peuan country director to get meetings with senior government staff….but the country director claims the situation is getting better.
6. Finance, budgeting, HR
Consultant strongly recommends that in future, all budgets have a contingency fee. Finance managers should be trained in UNICEF financial procedures. On-time financial reporting still needs to be improved.
Staff need more training in cash management. Consultant recommends identifying regular counseling options for staff to access if need be. Consultant also recommends identifying an organization that can provide more specialized counseling for children who may need it (in shelters, communities, for street outreach). HR policy needs to be finalized. Roles of HR and Finance need to be separated, possibly new staff hired. Strengthen HR systems once HR policy is finalized. Consultant strongly recommends Peuan Peuan and Friends International makes finalization of the 2010 – 2014 strategy an urgent priority. Consultant recommends identifying a technical advisor, or appointing one staff member, to focus solely on future fundraising. Consultant recommends Peuan Peuan considers hiring a dedicated media and communications officer in future, so that all IEC materials are standardized and localized for the Thai context, code of conduct (child protection) is translated into child-friendly language, create promotional materials for Child Safe members, and raise the profile of Peuan Peuan’s work through media.
7. Other Issues
In future, Peuan Peuan needs to do more research on costing, e.g. not enough budget allocated for office rent at Aranyaprathet. The issue of the lack of availability of vocation training and nor-formal education for children/youth over 15 is a problem. This should be researched further and potential new partners (e.g. Don Bosco in Poipet) identified. Consultant recommends having a Home-Based Production resource person based in Poipet – Siem Reap and Phnom Penh too far away to support people doing HBP in Poipet.
Full report in PDF
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