01 November 2007

Child labour on the Thai-Cambodian border

A young Cambodian girl queued up at the gate early morning waiting to cross the border.© UNICEF-Thailand/2007/Athit Perawongmetha

Story by Robert Few

ARANYAPRATHET, Thailand  – As the sun rises over the Thai-Cambodian border town of Aranyaprathet, it reveals a straggling line of desperate people queuing to cross from Cambodia into Thailand. Among them are thousands of children coming into Thailand to work as child labourers in Aranyaprathet’s Rong Glua Market.

Ragged, unwashed and ill-fed, they are fleeing abject poverty on the other side of the border to work for a pittance in the huge market’s sprawling stalls and hangars. Around 10,000 people are employed here every day until 8 p.m., when the border closes and most of them, including the children, stream back into Cambodia.

11 September 2007

Doing news about children isn't always easy: students say

University students majoring in journalism and mass communication learned about child rights and ethical reporting about children. © UNICEF-Thailand/2007/Rob Few
Story by Nattha Keenapan

CHIANG MAI, Thailand – The first time Kanoknipa Wongjai covered a news story related to children, she spent hours with a group of them in a crowded on-line game shop in an effort to get some of them to talk to her.

Kanoknipa, a third year Communication Arts student at Chiang Rai’s Rajabat University, who was gathering information for a news story about the impact of on-line games on children, said trying to get the children to open up to her “was not at all easy.”

29 August 2007

Restorative justice

Last year, on a daily average, more than 2,200 children were held in Juvenile Observation and Protection Centers across the country.© UNICEF-Thailand/2007/Few
Story by Nattha Keenapan

(The story was published in the Bangkok Post on August 28, 2007)

BANGKOK - Last month, 14-year-old Wit* was arrested by police for stealing a 10-kilogramme of spool of electrical wire from a house where he was employed as a part-time construction worker. He spent one night behind bars at the local police station before his weeping and distraught mother bailed him out.

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.

02 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.

11 March 2007

Stark disparities revealed by Thailand's largest-ever household survey

Gongsak and his mother being interviewed at home in Baan Tung Faet village in Rachaburi Province. © UNICEF-Thailand/2006/Rob Few
Story by Robert Few

RATCHABURI, Thailand – Three-year-old Gongsak, an ethnic Kalieng boy, lives with his mother in a flimsy wooden shack off a minor road in rural Ratchaburi. Here, some 30 kilometres from the border with Burma, Gongsak and his mother, Noy Meer, subsist in poverty, without access to adequate health care, sanitation or other services many Thai families take for granted.

Gongsak’s household was one of 43,000 covered by a nationwide survey carried out last year by the National Statistics Office (NSO). The survey, officially called the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), was the largest assessment ever of the situation of children and women in Thailand.