03 June 2012

The impact of parental migration on the children left behind and their caretakers

Yuan Wijitram, 66, watches television with her grandchildren in Buriram's Baan Tabek villalge. Yuan sometimes helps babysit her neighbours' grandchildren.© UNICEF Thailand/2012/Athit Perawongmetha

Story by Alisa Tang

(The story was published in the Bangkok Post newspaper on July 23, 2012)

BURIRAM, Thailand, - Each morning, the elderly women of this sleepy farming village hop on their motorcycles or plod along rural roads to drop off their grandchildren at the village pre-school or at the elementary school. The women tuck a few coins into the children’s pockets for snacks, head home and then return in the afternoon to pick up their charges.

In this village – as in many parts of this northeastern Thai region known as Isaan – a majority of the children’s parents have left them behind for jobs in Thailand’s urban centers, leaving the grandparents – usually the maternal grandmother – to take care of their offspring.