Project Meah

We need your help to keep caring for the trafficked children who have to call refugee shelters in Thailand home for now.

Thailand is home to a number of unaccompanied, neglected and trafficked children who are seeking refuge from poverty and persecution in neighbouring countries.

Thousands of people have fled violence and oppression in Myanmar in search of a better life. They have fled in whatever way they can, often paying exorbitant sums to human traffickers who will exploit anyone they can. Over half of rescued trafficking victims are children.

Many are Rohingya, one of the most persecuted ethnic groups on the planet. They have been forced into camps, abused and stripped of their rights. Thousands have fled their homeland in search of a better life, only to be separated from their loved ones and detained in refugee shelters in Thailand.

Officials rushed to set up centres to house the influx of refugees crossing their borders, but there are currently no national or local guidelines on how to care for and protect children who are rescued from trafficking.

The shelters were only meant to be a temporary solution, and so weren’t designed to be long-term boarding houses for children with nowhere to go and noone to care for them. But that’s what they are now. 


Meah needs special counselling and care while she waits for her future to be sorted out for her. She is young and vulnerable and just wants someone to love her.

Give Meah that special care and counselling she needs to recover from her trauma.

Read Meah's Story

Meah was just four years old when she was packed onto a small, overcrowded fishing boat along with her mother and baby sister. The trip across the Andaman Sea takes weeks. With no room to move in the overloaded boat, anything might have been done to Meah and other children who were so vulnerable and exposed.

Her mum had to pay a hefty sum to a trafficker who promised to take them from their home in Myanmar to a “better life” in Malaysia, where her father had found work. They were only given a handful of rice to eat each day. Children cried constantly because of their hungry tummies. Not everyone survived the terrifying journey.

Their boat never made it to Malaysia. It landed in southern Thailand and the refugees, now illegal migrants, were detained by officials in processing centres. They had nowhere to go and didn’t want to go back to Myanmar.

Meah became separated from her mother and eventually ended up in one of Save the Children’s refugee shelters in Thailand. No one can find her mum.

When Meah first arrived at the shelter, she wouldn’t speak, wouldn’t wash, and wouldn’t look anyone in the eye. It’s no wonder she acted like this after her harrowing trip across the sea, crammed up next to strangers, and then losing her mum. 

It was a great challenge to communicate with them as we don’t have a translator. We couldn’t talk and didn’t understand each other. We didn’t know where to start.

Natnicha Chandee has been working as a social worker in Phan Nga shelter for eight years

Under our responsibility, we normally take care of less than 20 people at the shelter for a short period of time because we are the first stop for children and mothers in need…we will have to adapt our ways of working to be able to manage this large group of Rohingyas.

Dararat Sutes, Director of Phang Nga shelter

There is a real emphasis on giving these children, some of whom have had horrific experiences, a childhood again. So that when they leave they will have the ability and enough language skills to adapt and make the most of their future.

Gareth Davies from Save the Children New Zealand went to visit the programme in Thailand, and was impressed with what he saw.

We have a solution

We are working with shelter staff to care for children like Meah, through one-on-one counselling and psychosocial activities, helping her deal with trauma. By providing these children with the tools to cope with their traumatic experiences, we are giving them a better future.

Save the Children has been pioneering specialised care for unaccompanied, neglected children and child victims of trafficking in Thailand since 2015. We ensure they live in a safe environment, away from abuse and exploit

Boys reading

Better care

We are training shelter staff in child protection and safeguarding, helping them give the best possible care to the children living there.


Many of the children living in the shelters do not speak Thai. We are providing translators, so that these children’s stories can be heard and their needs met through individual care plans.


There is a sense of hopelessness amongst older children, as their future seems so uncertain. We are giving them an education and skills to provide them with the tools they need to survive.

Reuniting families

Where possible, we are working to reunite unaccompanied children with their families.

Will you help?

The choice you make right now can help change lives and protect children like Arisa from abuse and traffickers. 

Thanks to our supporters, we are giving vulnerable and trafficked children living in migrant shelters hope for a better future


shelters are being supported


shelter staff have been trained


children have joined in our psycho-social activities


people trafficked to Thailand between 2011-2013