Jacqueline Lee is an InTheField Traveler with GlobalGiving who is visiting our partners’ projects throughout Southeast Asia. Her “Postcard” from the visit in Thailand:
On June 4, I met with a board member, staff, and 3 youth that were supported by Siam-Care now with hopes and dreams of pursuing professional careers.
First I met 2 young women, one is studying finance and the other an international law student. One of the young women had been brought in at 12 years old for support by her "adopted" mother because she lost family from HIV/AIDS. She now supports financially her siblings. The other young woman was an orphan and studies law because she is interested in law and justice. We discussed that if they were not at Siam-Care they would be at higher risk for trafficking and or abusive work situations. Many youth migrate uninformed to large cities like Bangkok to support their families or themselves if they don't have families. With the support of Siam-Care they can stay in school, receive education and support, and aim for professional careers like accounting, medicine, and law.
The issue is that it is free to "sit in a classroom" but families have to pay for everything else including books, uniforms, and even specific haircuts. If the students don't have this, they can't attend.
Through GlobalGiving Siam-Care was able to support 50 overall youth. 6 are in technical school for things like electrician, bookkeeping, and other skillsets. The youth get to choose themselves what they want to study based on their passion and skills. The families and youth supported by Siam-Care are referred by word-of-mouth, other organizations, hospitals, and social workers. The last youth I met was a young man that a relative brought in because his mom died when he was 5 of HIV and his father passed away when he was 2. He is now in school, part time working at KFC, and studying to be a computer programmer. He also is interested in giving back and volunteering - he even asked about volunteering for GlobalGiving!
All of the youth and staff I met were kind and sincere. Despite difficult situations, economic instability, and families affected by HIV/AIDS everyone was hopeful, inspiring, and committed to making theirs' and others' situations better. I asked the young woman studying law what her favorite thing about Siam-Care was, and she said the retreats filled with fun activities and trainings that Siam-Care provides for families and youth. The young woman studying finance described Siam-Care as "like a family. If there are any problems, I can come here."
To support Siam-Care's current project click here: Support 100 Thai Prisoners And Families With HIV
Thailand has been affected by some heavy flooding these past few weeks. The latest ones hitting the very south of the country and earlier ones affecting the north-east, the poor agricultural part of Siam-Care's work:
Over 3.2 million people are affected and more than 50 have died as a direct result. Around 3.5 Million rai (1.4 million acres) of farmland and paddy fields have been damaged which means many farmers will not have a harvest this year, they already are the poorest of the country. The sad thing is that much of the heavy flooding in many provinces is caused by greed. According to different sources widespread encroachment on water retention areas and the blocking of natural drainage ways by construction projects are being blamed for some of the disastrous flooding. The construction of resort hotels, golf courses, housing estates, roads and the province’s sports complex for the Southeast Asian Games three years ago have also added to the severity of it all.
Farmers, already struggling to make ends meet, face major financial problems; many will not have a harvest this year. This means they will not be able to pay back the loans they took out to buy seedlings, fertilizer etc. It also means they will have to buy rice to feed their families; where will all this money come from?
These families are at risk;
- of being broken up and separated as parents will migrate to the city to find any job in order to be able to send money back home
-Students are at risk of having to drop out of school as their will be no extra to pay the required schooling costs/equipment
-Students are at risk of feeling responsible to stop their education and help the family find ways to earn money.
Siam-Care is committed to helping the very poor affected students at risk in the north-east of Thailand to continue their education, and helping the parents with support in order for them to be able to stay together as a family.
We hope you will partner with us in this!
pictures show; 1- wading through the floods 2- destroyed rice paddies
Ann is an 18 year old girl who was born and raised in Thailand. Her grandmother originally came from Laos, 60 years ago, and settled in a small rural village. The grandmother never got any official Thai papers and neither did her daughter. This meant that when Ann was born she was the daughter to an illegal migrant in Thailand; Ann also didn't get papers. Ann was allowed to follow primary school but without a proper birth certificate she couldn't continue her education any further. She started working in underpaid jobs, at risk of exploitation, had no rights to speak up; after all, she too didn't exist in any records. Ann's mother died of AIDS a couple of years ago leaving Ann to be the breadwinner for her now elderly grandmother and her 2 younger brothers, of which the youngest one does have an official Thai birth certificate and thus can attend school.
With the money raised through Global Giving we will support Ann to start in High School Adult Education. At the same time Siam-Care is working on getting her and her brother official papers so once Ann has finished high school she can do a vocational training and get a fair pay for the work she will do.
A World Bank research paper tells us that "an extra year of secondary school boosts girl's eventual wages by 15 to 25 percent".
Thanks to the donations, Ann has a much brighter future ahead than she ever had before!
An other little miracle in the family's life is that Siam-Care was able to get some villagers involved in building a new house for the family, supported by the local government. From a very poor hut they now got a much nicer, and rainproof, wooded house. Things are starting to look up for the family.
In the pictures
1) the old house
2) Ann with her grandmother and 2 brothers in front of their, what will be, new house.
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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