28 April 2007

Art helps Thai children heal the wounds of HIV



Story by Nattha Keenapan/ Video courtesy of We Understand Group

(Originally written for the The Nation newspaper)

CHIANG MAI, Thailand- The sound of children shouting “I can do!” echoes loudly inside the theater at Chiang Mai University’s Art Museum. As the lights dim and masks are donned by the children on the stage, they are ready to act out a drama that gives voice to the pain, fears and hopes they have as children living with HIV/AIDS in Thailand today.

The staging of the play, entitled “Who am I? Why am I here?”, marked the one-year anniversary of the drama’s first performance in Thailand, and it drew a standing room-only audience to the theatre. Most of the people in the audience, who ranged in age from toddlers to retirees, were not aware that they would be wiping away tears by the time of the final curtain.

01 April 2007

Begging some difficult questions

A woman begs with a young girl on the streets of Bangkok. Children are often hired for use by beggars
trying to attract sympathy. © UNICEF Thailand/2007/Robert Few

Story by Nattha Keenapan

(The story was published in the Bangkok Post newspaper)

BANGKOK - It's a typical weekday morning inside the Ban Phumvet reception home for boys in Nonthaburi – and it's typically hectic. Toys are scattered across the floor of an open-air classroom where around 20 children are about to begin their first lesson of the day. In front of them is a small whiteboard covered with the Khmer alphabet.

For most of these children, it has only been a few weeks or less since they were on the streets begging. Their journey began with severe poverty in their hometowns in Cambodia, and its end – a life with a decent chance of a better future – is not yet in sight.