Bath & Thammasat Research Project: Sharing Their Narratives

Research into children's experiences of alternative care in Thailand.

Our researchers are using arts-based methods to have conversations with children about their day to day lives in the orphanages and residential schools. The children have for the most part been wholly positive about the places where they live. On one level this is good news, they report the staff care for them, and that they feel they are well looked after. The children so far have all presented as being extremely grateful particularly for getting an education.

However, this education is often coming at a great cost, severing their family relationships. These are children who are often not orphans and many have family relatively nearby. We interviewed six children in one school on the Thai Myanmar border and only one reported they had no family. The others had minimal contact with their family, one twelve-year-old girl saw her family twice a year, she said they a lived a long way away… three hours.

Another girl who had been living in the school for seven years saw her family every two months, again she described them being far away but in reality, this was just 25km (15 miles).

Despite the children presenting as being positive about their life in the residential schools, when you ask about their hopes for the future often it shows what is really going on for them. Many are longing for a return home to their villages, their families and the communities where they belong.

Their hopes and dreams speak volumes. One girl explained she wanted to be a teacher when she grew up, not in the school she was attending now, she wanted to return home and teach in her village.