Two happy families!
Usually, when we go on citizenship trips, we travel hours and hours for just one child to get them their rights as members of Thai society. In April, we had the chance to do 6 cases in one day! One of the families in our program cares for their 10 year old nephew. He is one of 6 children in the family, and his twin older brothers don't have citizenship either. Despite the fact that this is a part of the job description of the village chief, he required $250 for each child in order to have him sign the paperwork granting them citizenship. Keep in mind that the mom does migrant labor, and makes between $3.50 and $8 PER DAY. The mom didn't know what to do, so the uncle asked for our help. We took all the paperwork, the mom and the 3 boys up to the government office where they were born, a 6 hour drive from Chiang Mai. When Fai, the mom of another family in our program, heard we were going, she asked if we could help her sister's family as well, so she came along in the van.
Fai's sister met us there and brought her 3 children, the youngest of whom is 6 weeks old. They all traveled 90 minutes on the back of a motorcycle to come do this paperwork because they are from the same village with the chief who is unwilling to help. Fai's sister has somehow managed to be the only person in their family who never got her Thai citizenship card, so none of her children have it either.
On this day, all the paperwork was in order, there were very few people at the government center and we were blessed enough to have new government workers who were very invested in helping these families. They checked all the paperwork, put the information into the system and scheduled us to return May 9 and 10 to have 3 witnesses verify that all the applicants are who they say they are, and they will all get their cards on that day.
This is where we hit a snag. One of the witnesses must be the village chief, so how would we get around this? Luckily for us, Butsaba has a silver tongue and could convice the clouds to send snow on a July day, so with the government officers' help at crafting what to say, she talked the chief into coming down on May 9 and 10 if we pay for his gas and food, which is what we offer all the witnesses who need to come sign this paperwork. All the witnesses have to travel long distances and take time off work to do this, so we want to make it as easy as possible for them to come. Luckily for all of us, he accepted this offer!
Thanks to your donations, we will be able to transport all the members of the families once again, plus cover the travel expenses of the witnesses and village chief, and by May 10, you will have helped 6 people become full members of Thai society, moving from being people without a country, to being Thai citizens who can get a college education, buy a car, get health insurance and get a job that provides for their families. Thank you so much!
Wiped out after a long day of travel (12 hrs RT!)