All posts by Helene Smith

Combating barriers

My experience in Thailand has exceeded any expectations I came in with. The country is so beautiful and I have learned so much about the diverse cultures here. This has made me notice and reflect on my own culture and privilege, and see how my previous experiences overlap with the ones I’ve had here.

The child safe training was one of the first things we attended in Thailand that really stands out to me. In my social work classes back in the U.S. one main focus is on marginalized communities and populations, and how we can assist in combating the barriers they face. Similar barriers but to different extremes happen in America such as poverty, substance abuse, physical abuse, mental illness, etc. After hearing from the local social worker in Thailand, I saw many intermingling approaches as well as differences.

A noticeable difference I found was the lack of resources and a lack of trained social workers in the community. The social worker said they have 8 social workers in their community, they each are responsible for set neighborhoods. This means that the social worker is responsible for a vast amount of client situations and needs. Compared to the U.S where social workers are given clients and or they work in institutions or organizations with set intervention strategies and resources they know and are practiced in. It seems to me the quality of care and necessary intervention may be compromised because the social workers have too many clients and situations to cover. More socialworkers could widley assist in continueing to combat the barriers and reach more marginalized people.

One prevalent similarity I found was their philosophy and approach to build up the family system and support the child and keep them within the family and culture. At home as a socal work student in Duluth we apply this approach to marginalized communities there. The Native American population has a history of being maginalized and the (ICWA) Indian Child Welfare Act that protects the child from being sent immediately to a foreign home by instead looking at the family support circle and working to keep the child in the home.  I found this so similar to the organization here in Thailand and their intent to keep the child with the family, and work on that support system instead of opening orhanages and removing children from homes.

It is apparent that communities and families all over the world face barriers and difficulties. I really stand behind the child safe organization and espeacially one of their intents  to work with the families and build that support system.

I am stoked to continue this journey and look forward to discovering more along the way!


Blog #1

My name is Ellie and I am going to be a senior social work student at UMD. I am so excited to experience and learn from a culture and atmosphere so different from what I am used to! I am also very  interested in culture and people and I look forward to experienceing the Thai culture and learning about the communities in Thailand.