Institutionalised care is widespread in Myanmar, despite 73% of these children having one or both parents alive (UNICEF, 2004). Humanitarian disasters causing widespread damage, political turmoil and the effects of poverty have led to family breakdowns, whereby families see institutional care as a solution for giving their children a better life, rather than an option of last resort. Myanmar Children's Reintegration Project is working with local NGOs to change this: to see children currently living in residential care safely reintegrated back into families and communities where they have the best chance for holistic development and love, and developing community learning centres to strengthen whole communities.
Its vision is to also establish a pilot foster program and to partner with the Myanmar Government in developing an Alternative Care Policy, ensuring that all children fulfill their right to be raised in a family.
Since 2013 this project has reintegrated 2 children back into biological families, and 22 into kinship care, and even more children are on the journey of being reintegrated back into families.
One of these children include Wint, who was 12 years old when she lost both her parents and was brought into residential care by the local authorities. While she enjoyed it there, she dreamt of living in a family like other kids, and as she got older she found the home restricted her ability to become part of the community. When Myanmar Children's Reintegration Project began working with her home, she was so excited! Fortunately, the project was able to trace her aunty who lived in a different city and did not know what had happened to her niece due to the distance between them. Through the support and guidance of the this project, Wint was able to leave the children’s home and live with her aunt. The project also financially supported her aunt to open a small grocery store, which now makes enough money for Wint and her aunt and will enable Wint to go to university.
“When children are placed back into families, their confidence improves, they have better decision-making skills and they have clearer goals and dreams for their futures. They are also better equipped with important abilities and life skills and are able to build strong relationships with their community.” (Ps Myint Nwe)
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