Posted by Jerry Nelson
The Mae Tao Clinic (MTC) is an amazing organization comprised of wonderful people doing very difficult task with precious few resources! One of the many critical efforts is Birth Registration, ensuring that children who grow up in Thailand can gain access to health and education services. Having a recognized identity reduces the risk of human trafficking, child labour and exploitation. Yet, in Thailand and Myanmar many babies are born outside of hospital and their birth is not recorded. This situation fits exactly into Chiang Mai International Rotary Club’s (CMIRC) signature focus of CHILD SAFETY, HEALTH & EDUCATION.
CMIRC will help by supporting the Mae Tao Clinic who in turn works with the Committee for Protection and Promotion of Child Rights (CPPCR) and other organizations.
MTC has worked closely with the Thai government to ensure that all children born at Mae Tao Clinic have access to the registration process. Today MTC registers over 94 percent of the children born there. CPPCR registers babies born outside the clinic. In both cases there is 15-day window after birth in which baby’s birth must be registered in Thailand.
CPPCR also keeps a Child Record for all children under 15 years of age who do not possess any form of documentation. This network is critical for those children who are most vulnerable and may have been displaced, abandoned or orphaned during decades of unrest inside Myanmar. The provision of identification documentation for children with no family or kin protects children from trafficking, child labour, early marriage and other very serious forms of child abuse. This process is also important for these children’s futures and ensures that the potential for reunification of some of these families remains a possibility.
According to Thai law registration of children born before 2008 is possible if the children have approved documents. MTC and CPPCR partners are enabling their access to birth registration by helping to retrieve documents that prove birth at Mae Tao Clinic. Applicants can show the antenatal care records of their mother as proof; get the delivery record from MTC, or get a testimony from health workers present at time of birth to support their application.  If deemed necessary, Suwannimit Foundation’s legal team can step in to provide legal support throughout the process.
MTC will collaborate with CPPCR to conduct meetings with the Myanmar government to advocate for the rights of Burmese children holding Thai Birth Registration to access Burmese citizenship. Typically, the government of Myanmar has not recognized these birth certificates claiming the mothers were in Thailand illegally when the baby was born.
MTC’s Pa Hite Clinic serves 86 villages in Eastern Burma. They have their own birth registration program. MTC also partners with Community Based Organizations in Myanmar to support birth registration there. Recent reports of renewed military conflict in Karen State makes their tasks all the more challenging.
Our hope is that you will help us support the Mae Tao Clinic through increasing awareness and participating in our fundraising projects and events.  Look for announcements soon.