Migrant children living along the Thai-Myanmar border often face social and economic hardships and these hardships are often reinforced when the child has a mental or physical disability. As a result, disabled children are often vulnerable to abuse or rejected from their communities, while requiring parents to often face the difficult decision between going to work and caring for their child. Recognizing the lack of services for disabled children along the border, the Star Flower Center was established in 2009 to provide a safe space for students to grow, learn, and develop. World Education has worked with the Star Flower Center and its partner, the Burmese Migrant Workers Education Committee (BMWEC), for over six years in providing services to disabled migrant children and in being the only school of its kind along the Thai-Myanmar border. Along with providing technical support to both Star Flower and BMWEC, World Education supports Star Flower teachers in gaining the necessary training, skills, and knowledge to work with special education students. This includes training teachers on how to best meet the specific emotional and educational needs of their students. Each student at Star Flower has their own individual learning plan and teachers trained under World Education learn how to carry out these learning plans using an array of methodologies including math, art, and music. Teachers are also trained in mobility and learn how to work with students’ physical needs through different stretching and mobility techniques.
In July of 2015 after a successful fundraiser and a donation from our friends at Global Neighbors, Star Flower opened its doors to their very own school, giving the center and students a permanent home. To celebrate, World Education along with numerous community organizations attended an opening ceremony in which Star Flower students performed songs and celebrated with dance and food. This permanent school ensures that disabled migrant students will continue to receive the education and support they need, while ensuring that future generations of disabled students have a school where they can develop and grow. The new center also allows partner BMWEC, who took over control of Star Flower, to focus on establishing programs for older students where Star Flower may no longer be a good fit. The process to create this new program is already ongoing with BMWEC staff working with parents to assess the needs of their child as well as their progression and capabilities gained while attending the center. Parents expressed their immense gratitude for the center and the positive impact the school has had on their children both developmentally and emotionally. With the next phase to support older students in the works, BMWEC hopes to help older students smoothly transition out of the Star Flower Center and into independent young adults.
Learn more about Star Flower and it’s impact on disabled migrants students along the Thai-Myanmar border here.