Last week I traveled with Labour Rights Promotion Network (LPN) on a field trip to Rayong and Khlong Yai near the Cambodian border. We visited a couple of LPN’s Learning Centers that serve as a remedial school/drop-in center for migrant children who otherwise have no place to go. Although it is Thai law that migrant children are allowed to attend Thai public school, the schools are often “full” or the parents can’t afford to send their children and sometimes they aren’t enforcing school attendance on their children. LPN social workers are also involved with these families, identifying the toughest cases and assessing for exploitation. These centers are providing a key service to help stop the cycle of exploitation and prevent trafficking. During the trip we discussed various measures to help equip the staff in health care issues, child protection issues, and basic sustainable ways to improve health in the communities.
Kyle, the boy I introduced to you in the last post, is doing well and he is such a dear kid. The plan was that he was going to spend five days with his mom and siblings. However his mom had temporarily returned to Cambodia. His father was home but clearly not too interested in him. He spent the night and then came back with us. It’s kind of a mixed blessing. He still cries because he is very homesick (despite the abuse and neglect he suffers) and was so excited to see his mom and siblings. Even so, on the way back to Mahachai he slept most of the way but was basically back to himself.
The staff report that Kyle’s behavior has much improved since living at the LPN shelter. At first he was very cross and aggressive with the other children. This was a result of living in his harsh home environment where he had to fight for everything. His father was either away at sea or totally not interested. His mother, who makes money however she can, often by selling sex, has limited energy for her 5 (or 6) children. Although he has a “home” he is basically a street kid there. The staff at LPN picked him up as a special case due to his growth deficiency and untreated broken arm.
Human trafficking IS preventable and IS often a family issue. As I pointed out in my story about Frank and Kyle, we need to do more for children of all sorts to help give them a safe and healthy start so that they aren’t making choices that lead to vulnerability and slavery.
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