Beloved and belonging: finding a family for Thar Thar
BMS is helping refugee children find families on the Thai-Burma border. Meet Thar Thar’s wonderful new family today.
Born a refugee and abandoned as a baby, Thar Thar is a young Burmese boy who spent the first four years of his life in an orphanage on the Thai-Burma border. Recently, BMS helped place him as a foster child in a loving home - and is incredibly excited to share his story.
Thar Thar now has a mum, a dad and a little sister. His sister’s name is Liliwa, and aged only three she is already introducing him as her ‘brother’.
It was a call from God which led Matu and Paquoi to foster Thar Thar. They understood the importance of giving a child like him a family to be a part of. Although materially it may appear that they have little to offer, as they are very poor, their big hearts and conviction to follow God’s call mean Thar Thar now has a family to call his own. We think that’s rather wonderful.
The work BMS supports has helped this family to have better living conditions and helped Matu find a good job in order to provide a safe home for Thar Thar. Having been in residential care since he was abandoned at birth, family is something he has known very little of.
Born in a local clinic with problems with his digestive system, Thar Thar’s mother was overwhelmed by the problems he faced, and worried about the cost of any operations that might be needed. Not realising his problems could be solved with a small operation, she left him at the clinic, and he was taken in by a residential care home for abandoned babies. This, sadly, is not an uncommon occurrence.
Thar Thar’s future is far brighter now that he’s been fostered. “Thar Thar now has a family – he belongs,” says BMS worker Lydia English, who, together with husband Brian, helped to find Thar Thar a home.
Stories like Thar Thar’s tell of a wider problem BMS is seeking to address through our work. Millions of children globally don’t have families. There are many heartbreaking reasons for this. Displacement due to political instability. The vulnerability that is coupled with refugee status. “There are thousands of children in residential care. These children have parents,” says Lydia.
In Mae Sot, it’s no different. “So many times families don’t want to give up their children, yet they feel they have no other option because they live in such poverty,” Lydia says. As with many things, it comes down to money: the cost of keeping a child is too great for a mother, and so the child is given away or even sold in the misjudged hope that life will be better in institutionalised care.
So what would Lydia say was her challenge from her time spent working with these little ones? “Children need to belong to families,” she says, and not in institutional care. “That’s not to demonise it, but it is to say that the best place for children is with loving, safe families.”
To encourage this, Lydia has been helping to develop family-based care training and resources in Mae Sot. “It’s all about helping families stay together before that critical point of putting a child into care.” Through the work that Lydia has been involved in, some children in care in the town are now being reunited with their extended families.
The knock-on effects of this work continuing are beautifully simple and yet excitingly far-reaching. By strengthening and supporting families, communities like that of the Burmese refugees in Mae Sot will be further empowered. And children will grow up knowing they’re loved.
Through this work, change will happen and is happening. “Thank you for giving a voice to the voiceless children,” says Lydia. “BMS is giving them a voice.”
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This story originally appeared on the BMS World Mission website and is used with permission