For most children of decent homes in North America, staying safe means adequate supervision, an attentive school system, loving parents and a good neighborhood – for those children who reside in the regions of Thailand staying safe simply means staying “alive”….
There are approximately 375,000 migrant children residing in Thailand that are extremely vulnerable to human trafficking. The United Nations reports that children from Burma, Laos and Cambodia are trafficked into forced begging and labour in Thailand. Often trafficking victims from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Vietnam and North Korea pass through Thailand en route to Western Europe, Singapore, Russia and the US. There is a reason why Thailand is not only a gateway for human trafficking but also for animal trafficking. To the west, Thailand has some of the best air and sea connections in Southeast Asia and to the east, near Laos, are the markets of Vietnam and China….
Out of all this is born an organization called SAFE CHILD THAILAND whose mission, vision and values include projects that advocate for alternative care solutions, social care, family tracing, foster care and family protection and empowerment…Here are three stories of success:
Myine is a young boy from a “minority hill tribe” who left his village to find job opportunities. Because he was from one of the “lesser” villages, he didnt possess identification and thus, his pursuit of a better life led him to a village leader who promised him ID if he took out a sizable loan. He took the loan out, but was never supplied with the promised ID. Still having to pay off the loan, he turned to the sex trade. Safe Child Thailand, as part of their outreach met with Myine at the massage parlour where he worked and gradually, over a series of team meetings where Myine would share his dream of farming, they were able to convince Myine to move back to his village and get his whole family to help him achieve his dream. Eventually they would grow certain crops to sell to restaurants with the help and support of the team.
Mint is a 10 year old girl with quadriplegic cerebral palsy. She used to spend all day in bed (her family did not know how to care for her) until she was visited by a team member of SCT every week and eventually received the physiotherapy that she so desperately needed all along. The results are astounding. “Mint can now move her arms and legs, and her muscles are no longer rigid.” The team was able to help Mint’s family obtain an interest free loan to upgrade their house to include a wheelchair and a new toilet.
Ni Ni, another success story, is the youngest of six children and was raised in a single parent situation when her father left the family. Unlike North America, there are no child support laws in place in Thailand that require a parent to support the family when there is a split. So an already marginalized family can become even more marginalized….Living in one of the many migrant communities on the border, Ni Ni was able to attend a school for migrant children but ironically, there was a high dropout percentage. The reason was simple and heartbreaking. Marginalized families could not afford to prepare a lunch for their children. “Malnutrition is an issue that is almost entirely isolated to marginalized groups; ethnic communities and migrant communities”. Ni Ni was part of that group. Luckily for Ni Ni, her school participated in SAFE CHILD’S SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAMME which provided schools with mushroom spore bags. “The children attending the school rely on the meals the school (and SAFE CHILD) provides them to stay healthy, maintain focus in the classroom and learn about sustainability”….
As we close on this chapter about Thailand…its mysteries and malady’s…I must admit, for all purposes, I do feel safe in the country that I live in. I dont always appreciate this country, but I always feel safe, even when I shouldn’t! When I look at a place like Thailand, I can appreciate its intense beauty while at the same time cringing at the thought of a young person being sold for $30. SAFE CHILD is an incredibly needed grass roots organization born out of the desperation of losing a child…It has empowered parents and children alike and continues to do so.
Empowerment…now that’s another ingredient which keeps everybody safe!!! (VISIT OUR SEP BLOG AS WE MOVE ON TO EXPLORE RESTORATION IN THE UK!!!)