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
cases in Fang
cases in Fang

Our citizenship cases have seen some great progress and some setbacks this year. 

Mae Fah Luang: We have one family with 5 cases in this province. We helped the mom get her ID card last year, and started working on the 4 kids next. The 3 younger kids have completed the application process and are just waiting for the government to assign them a social security number, which should be done by June and we will get to take them to take their photos and get their official cards. The oldest son still has some issues with his paperwork, so it's taking a bit longer to get his processed. 

Mae Suay: We have a family of 4 in this province. The mom has 3 kids and none of them have their citizenship. The issue with this case is the mom is a drug addict with outstanding fines for drug use so it's been very difficult to get her to show up for appointments and get the paperwork she needs. If she doesn't follow through, it's not possible to get the kids citizenship, which means they aren't eligible for health care and it will make school much more expensive when they get older. It's a bit of a catch 22 situation: her drug use is inhibiting getting citizenship, but without citizenship, she can't access drug rehab. We are doing what we can to support the rest of the family caring for the children and trying to get their help to get her to the offices to move the citizenship case forward. 

Chiang Dao: We have 1 case here of a college student. She just graduated from university, so now she is able to submit her college degree and get her citizenship card. We just need to have the village chief sign the paperwork and turn in her degree. 

Fang: We have had 5 cases in this area with 4 families. One of the students got her card already, hooray! Three of the cases are kids in 1st, 5th and 9th grade and they have all completed the application process and are waiting on their ID number from the government. Our final case is in the early stages and we are trying to track down all her paperwork. She is a college student in our scholarship program, so if we aren't able to get her paperwork together, we will wait for her to graduate and do the same thing as our student in Chiang Dao. 

We are going to take on the case of one of the college students from the class we taught at Lanna Theological College who grew up in an orphanage. It will be complicated, but we have hope we will be able to track down the people who have the paperwork we need to do his case. 

Finally got her ID card! (7 year journey)
Finally got her ID card! (7 year journey)
Family case in Mae Fah Luang
Family case in Mae Fah Luang
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Citizenship for 2 kids in Fang
Citizenship for 2 kids in Fang

We had a pretty successful year of citizenship applications in 2020, despite the pandemic, and are looking forward to more success in 2021. We have 7 cases currently in process and are on track to have 5 completed by February. We are working in the counties of Mae Fah Luang, Fang, Doi Saket and Chiang Dao and are grateful to all the civil servants who have helped us get citizenship and opportunity for our clients. Several of our cases involve families with young children, so we are happy that they will grow up not worrying about their citizenship status but able to complete their education and get good jobs with no additional stress. Thank you for your support in this area and stay tuned for more updates as the year progresses!

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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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Organization Information

CORD Ministries International

Location: Wickenburg, AZ - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @JojoSThailand
Project Leader:
Heather Askew
Wickenburg, AZ United States
$1,653 raised of $3,000 goal
 
31 donations
$1,347 to go
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