Preparing Refugees and Migrants for the Future
For years, Thailand has been a haven for populations on the move, from the two million migrants who travel through the country to work to the thousands of refugees from Myanmar living in camps along the border. ARC offers support to both groups, ensuring that their basic needs are met through primary health care and water and sanitation services. We also work to protect vulnerable groups from violence and help them build economic resiliency.
In 1992, ARC began providing services for the thousands of people fleeing instability in Myanmar.
Now, the atmosphere at the camps is one of anticipation and apprehension, as refugees face the possibility of voluntary return to their home country. In March 2015, a draft ceasefire was signed between the Government of Myanmar and 16 ethnic groups, signaling the beginning of the peace process. Many of those who have called these refugee camps home for decades are fearful of the return and what life will be like when they arrive. It is our job to prepare communities for this transition, helping to build the confidence needed to make a safe, peaceful, and successful move back home.
Building self-reliance and positive action
We’re helping refugees apply the hard work and dedication they bring to their lives in the camps toward their future outside the camps, encouraging them to think about their next steps and transition plan. One of these initiatives includes an ideas competition that will focus on the process of coming up with a business idea or a creative way to prevent gender-based violence and is aimed at increasing confidence.
Economic empowerment is a key factor in developing self-reliance. To that end, ARC’s micro-enterprise development (MED) program helps participants develop skills they can use when they leave the camps. Refugees have the opportunity to practice their newly learned skills through Voluntary Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) and small start-up businesses. With the goal of building independence by focusing on an attitude of positive action and self-help, we are fostering an environment of preparation.
Our refugee staff are extremely capable, helping to run the lifesaving services at all of our camps in Thailand, including vital primary health services, reproductive and child health, and community health education. Pregnant women who seek our services may be cared for by one of the hundreds of ARC-trained refugee midwives, receiving care before and after birth.
In conjunction with our program in Myanmar, we’re focused on eliminating drug-resistant malaria. We work with migrants who regularly traverse the Myanmar/Thailand border, providing them with insecticide treated mosquito nets, prevention education, and diagnosis and treatment services.
Water and sanitation
While our health services are vital to treating disease, our water and sanitation program is key to preventing it. In collaboration with refugee communities, we help to maintain clean water supplies that are safe to drink and accessible, while at the same time ensuring that people have adequate access to things like latrines and hygiene education. We’ve had incredible success, with the incidences of cholera, diarrhea, and other water-transmitted diseases staying below 5%.
When the work is done, the task accomplished … our smiles reflect a staff saying … ‘we have done it ourselves’!
- Sudan Nduati, Micro-enterprise Development Coordinator
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