17 August 2010

Finding the way to full rehabilitation


Somsak Chuchuykhom shows colorful drawings made by young offenders which depict hopes and plans of their futures.
© UNICEF Thailand/2010/Athit Perawongmetha


Story by Nattha Keenapan

(The story was published in the Bangkok Post on August 16, 2010)

SONGKHLA, Thailand – Abject poverty and domestic violence were daily realities for Somsak Chuchuykhom as he was growing up in the border province of Narhatiwat. Regarded as his family’s “bad and stupid” son, he was put to work at the age of 7 selling candy on the train at night.

From the start, the odds of Somsak making something out of his life were never very good. A poor student, and growing up in an abusive environment, Somsak started smoking marijuana at 13, and soon after moved on to methamphetamines. At 18, he was serving two years in a detention centre for the possession and sale of methamphetamines, and his future prospects looked grim.