ZOE Children’s Homes
ZOE Children’s Homes provide safety and shelter for orphans, children deemed to be highly at risk of trafficking by ZOE’s Child Rescue Department, and children rescued directly from slavery.
The care is based on a “family” model utilising a ZOE parent-to-child ratio of between 1:1 and 1:6 depending on the age and special needs of the child. ZOE parents are indigenous staff who have been through a lengthy application process and become paid employees.
We respect and value the local culture and encourage activities that promote both the Thai culture and some of the rural ethnic tribes where the children may have origin. ZOE Children’s Homes facilitates this through a range of activities including songs, music, dance, crafts and storytelling.
One thing that never ceases to amaze me is the love and care that the ZOE parents show to the children in their family. The bond between the orphaned and rescued children is so strong, that these kids get to genuinely experience the genuine love and safety that comes from being part of a family.”
ZFA Field Worker, Thailand
When a child is rescued directly from slavery they will spend some time at one of ZOE’s safe houses. These safe houses provide short-term specialised care to facilitate the trial process, witness protection, and initial rehab/counseling.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the rescue, the Thai Department of Social Welfare may recommend that the child be moved into ZOE’s aftercare facility (for longer-term care). In these cases ZOE facilitates the transition, by having times where the child can interact with their new ‘ZOE parents’ in a range of situations to help facilitate the move into their new ‘ZOE family.’
ZOE’s aftercare program has had a 0% recidivism rate and no runaways.
ZOE offers scholarships for higher education. Some former ZOE children have completed tertiary education and, once completed, have worked as staff at ZOE for a period of time in assisting the Child Recue Department, offering legal assistance, teaching children, and architectural expertise.
ZOE International Foundation is a member of the Anti-Trafficking Multi-disciplinary Task Force in Thailand and has cultivated effective partnerships and works closely with the Thai Ministry of Social Welfare and Human Security, Immigration Department and Transnational Crime Unit Police Region 5.
The ZOE Children’s Homes staff will always act in the best interests of the child. To ensure all staff and volunteers understand the how to best protect the children ZOE has developed a robust Child Protection Policy that has now been shared (and implemented) by other non-government organisations. In addition, ZOE has developed Media Guidelines to ensure that the children’s dignity, identities, and lives are protected.
“ZOE Children’s Homes are our ‘feet on the ground.’ We are proud to have Australians working in the field who report back to us the transformational changes in the lives of the children that we help to free from slavery. Children who now attend school and are getting their chance at life.”
Rescued at 18 Months
Though just a baby, before she was rescued Nicha was used in a “family” of professional beggars. She was especially ‘valuable’ to the ring and was used as a ‘prop’ by an adult beggar who posed as her mother, in what was exposed as a sinister performance for financial gain.
I remember clearly when Nicha first came to ZOE. I looked at her in contrast to my youngest son who was similar in age. At first, I thought to myself, something is not quite right here. She was incredibly lethargic. She was slow to move and overall she did not look well. I actually thought that some testing would need to be arranged, as she appeared to have developmental delays. But, as the days and weeks passed, we all came to realise that there was nothing slow or lethargic about this little girl. We now know that this was the result of the drugs that were still present in her tiny body.”
ZFA Field Worker, Thailand