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Help Stateless children achieve Thai citizenship

by CORD Ministries International
Help Stateless children achieve Thai citizenship
Help Stateless children achieve Thai citizenship
Help Stateless children achieve Thai citizenship
Help Stateless children achieve Thai citizenship
Fang trip
Fang trip

This update has ups and downs just like all things in life. 

After several years of trying to go through the system to get Andrew* his citizenship, we have come to the end of possibilities. We had hoped that we could do a DNA test with his aunt to prove his relation and thus get his citizenship granted. However, we recently learned that even if the DNA test comes back positive, which is unlikely given that they are different genders and generations, because of the way in which his aunt got her citizenship, he will still not be eligible. For a nephew to follow a non-parent, they must have been born in Thailand, not moved here and then gotten citizenship after 30 years of being in country, as his aunt was. So, now we are putting all our efforts into getting funding for his spinal surgery to correct his severe scoliosis. Without citizenship, the costs will be significantly higher. We were able to get Andrews resident card, however, so if he continues his studies until he graduates college in 10 years, he will then be eligible to get his citizenship that way. 

Now for the good news: We have two other cases we have been working on, one of a mom and her 3 kids registered in Mae Fah Luang province, and another mom with two kids registered in Fang.

We started working on the Mae Fah Luang case about one year ago, and the mom got her citizenship card in June of 2019. Then, we were able to start on the case of her three chidlren. We got all the paperwork in for the kids in July and they scheduled interviews with the village chief and elders for November, so we will return then. The travel to MFL is 5 hours each direction, so we usually hire a van to take us all so we don't fall asleep on the trip! 

We also took the family of one of our foundation's staff to see whether we can get her kids citizenship. It turns out that the mom has been in Thailand long enough to have gotten citizenship for herself, but she missed the deadline to apply. Luckily, her kids are still eligible. Her daughter was born at home so doesn't have a birth certificate. We got a form to do a DNA test, and just have to wait for the results to come in. Her son has all his papers in order, so once the DNA comes back, both kids will get their citizenship cards. This is actually our easist case so far! This is our first case in Fang, which is about 3 hours from Chiang Mai. 

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Nikki with her family and citizenship officer
Nikki with her family and citizenship officer

For those of your who don't follow us on social media, we got Nikki her citizenship, just squeaking in before things shut down for COVID mid-March. This has been an arduous process. Nikki is the middle of 5 children and the only one who still didn't have her citizenship card. It has been a year since we completed her brother's case, and his was supposed to be the hard one! Since we started working on Nikki's case, it has been 3 years, 5 citizenship case managers, three sets of interviews (of the same people) and LOTS of paperwork. (sorry trees!) Here, there are so many paths to citizenship that none of them are clear and no one can agree on the best way to do it. I mentioned we had 5 case managers. Well, that means 5 different ideas of which path to take. In Thailand, people usually are at their job for around 6 months to a year before being transferred to a different province or department. It's supposed to help with corruption, but really it just creates chaos and a lack of investment in their job. Our final guy got the job done though, so we are very thankful! We showed our appreciation with a basket of fresh fruit for the officer. Now Nikki is eligible for school scholarships through her school so she can continue her studies and go to college. She just graduated from 9th grade, which is the mandatory minimum here, and after that you have to pay for school. Many schools provide scholarships but only for citizens. Now she is eligible for those scholarships! Of course, we would have helped cover the cost of her tuition regardless, but we are happy she has other options so we can assist other families in her situation. 

 

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 Just before Christmas break, we had the opportunity to meet with an amazing woman from Chiang Rai named Meejoo. She works on citizenship rights for people in countries all over SE Asia, with an organization called IMPACT. She has an amazing life story and when she first started meeting with corrupt village leaders who were extorting money out of poor villagers to sign their paperwork, she was poisoned and nearly died! But she did not give up and now the laws have changed, far fewer village leaders are using extortion to get their community citizenship and she has helped countless children get their human right to become citizens of their birth country. 

Today, we are meeting with the citizenship offices in Doi Saket, where we have 2 cases pending. Meejoo helped us understand the laws more and gave us advice on the cases. One case where the government officer said we would have to do a DNA test, she assured us that is not the case, and explained how to do that case. Hopefully, the government official will be willing to listen to us and follow the correct procedure to get this girl her citizenship so she can graduate high school and be eligible for college scholarships.

We are also finding out about our second case with the boy who has scoliosis. Apparently, they will not do a DNA test between a male and female unless they are mother and child or father and child. The only living relative this boy has is his aunt, so it makes his case much more complicated. We are hopeful they will be able to find another route to get his citizenship so he can get the surgery he needs to live a normal life. Without his citizenship, this surgery will cost around $10,000, so it makes a huge difference for him. 

Next month, we will journey back to Mae Fah Luang to assist a woman whose case we worked on last year to get her 3 children registered and get their citizenship cards. We are excited about this, as one year ago, no one in the family had citizenship, and by the end of February, the whole family should have it!

Thank you for supporting this cause and we will keep you apprised of any new developments. Be assured, your donations are being used to support people who are very deserving and in need. 

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2019 Has been the best year ever for citizenship cases! -May 2019: M got his citizenship card after years and years of trying! - June 2019: S and his two brothers got their cards AND Fai's sister finally got her card after decades of not having it! You can read all the details 

2019 Has been the best year ever for citizenship cases! 

-May 2019: M got his citizenship card after years and years of trying!

- June 2019: S and his two brothers got their cards AND Fai's sister finally got her card after decades of not having it! You can read all the details in our April update. So, in one day we got 4 cases closed! Fai's sister will need to come back in January with her oldest 2 children to get their cards, but that should be easy. We will accompany her to help with any miscommunication. 

- August 2019: A, our little guy with the crazy bad scoliosis that makes his back look like a map of Mulholland Drive, finally got a Thai registration number! This is amazing news because his family were quite scared that since his parents abandoned him he wouldn't get one. Luckily, interviewing his aunt, his foster mom and us was enough to convince them. Now he has a resident card for ten years. We got a letter requesting a DNA test for him and his aunt. Once that gets processed (about 3 months) we will go back in with the village chief and his aunt and he will get his full Thai citizenship! Then, he can apply for his low income health card which will allow him to get his back surgery in a couple of years for a fraction of the price. They estimate the cost without the insurance card is about $10,000, but with the insurance card, it should be around $1000. 

- October 1, 2019: N, M's younger sister, went to get her citizenship card, but we ran into some more difficulties in the computer system. It's still a little unclear why she has been unable to get it and why the system is not allowing them to bypass the errors, but we will keep pursuing it. Thankfully, the citizenship officer is very helpful and really wants her to get her card. We just hope that he doesn't get transferred soon, like all his predecessors who also tried to help get her card. 

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All smiles with their ID cards!
All smiles with their ID cards!

Thanks to your generous donations, we were able to take 4 of the people mentioned in our last letter to first do their witness interviews and then pick up their official Thai identity cards!  The 3 boys from one family all got their cards on the same day, and the older sister of another family got her card the following day. It was quite a trip for our Jojo's Sanctuary staff but so worth it to see the joy on the faces of the families. In addition to getting her citizenship card, the mom of the second family was able to register her newborn so she will automatically get notice when it's time to pick up the baby's identity card. As for her older two children, in a few months, the office will set up a time for them to come take their photos for their own identity cards as well. The lovely government official even gave her direct line to the mom so if she has any questions, she can call and ask without driving 90 minutes to the office.

This was such an exciting day for all, one of the teenage boys said "I feel as happy as if I had died and came back to life again!" Even the 10 year old was excited. Normally, he is a solemn, reticent boy, but since the day he got his ID card he has been all smiles and outgoing, participating in more activities at our family program and really opening up. It's been great to see his transformation. 

We are still working on a few cases this year, and hopeful that at least one will be completed by the end of 2019. We will need additional funds for these, since we had to make 3 trips to the Mae Fah Luang office 6 hours away to complete the 4 cases. If you are interested in donating again to make more dreams come true, you can click below. If you'd like to organize a fundraiser for us, just scroll down to "Start a fundraiser" and it will give you all the tools you need to be successful! Thanks again for your support, and the families thank you too. 

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Organization Information

CORD Ministries International

Location: Wickenburg, AZ - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @JojoSThailand
Project Leader:
Heather Askew
Wickenburg, AZ United States
$1,503 raised of $3,000 goal
 
23 donations
$1,497 to go
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