As I reflect learning about the children in Thailand and their futures, I see that there is a glimmer a hope and prosperity in their futures. However, learning about the children trafficking, the poor educational system in place that makes it hard for families to afford schooling for their children, and also learning about how Hmong villages only provide primary school, or not even, a standard education for their children saddens me.
First off, learning about the children trafficking in Thailand and forced child labor really intrigued me because I wanted to truly help the future generations. However, I witnessed first hand children working at the night market that same day we learned about the 7 tips to stop and prevent child labor. These two innocent girls were selling peanuts and flowers to tourists and natives at the night market. It was about 9:30PM already and still, from what it seemed like these two girls were forced to sell these items before the night was over, when they should have been sleeping to get up for school the next day. I sat there contemplating if I should have called the help line, or just observe and absorb my emotions as I watched these two girls sell their items. There was no smile, no motivation, and no emotion on the faces of the two girls. My heart was crying, but the tears of reality didn’t come out. These girls are the future of Thailand. They need an education in order to succeed and not have to work on the streets to earn a living. There are other ways to get past the hardship that they may encounter, but this seemed normal to the natives here. Although there are child labor laws in Thailand, why aren’t they doing anything more? I noticed that at the night market, there was little to no police or security enforcing these laws.
Another incident that made me truly value children and education is when we visited the boarding school Chen Dao. These children come from different backgrounds, different tribes and villages, and yet they seemed to co-exist as a community. Learning about how these innocent children can be saved through education and school from issues of sex trafficking, drugs, child labor and orphanage is so powerful to me. I truly believe that school and education can lead the way towards a better future for these children and that no matter the differences, educating each other about how similar we all really are is the glimmer of hope we all want to see in the future of these children. It was so welcoming to me to see how easily these students welcomed us and wanted us to co-exist with them as they have co-existed with each other in school. I was also amazed on how smart and intelligent these students were when we played our game charades. The true meaning of happiness and joy from these students was truly getting an education and going to school, and it brought me joy and happiness seeing the smiles and laughs on the student’s faces.
However, there are so many unanswered questions I still have as I absorbed my thoughts and feelings of seeing these children struggle. Seeing the struggle to have an affordable education and the struggle of making it through the trafficking and child labor issues in Thailand made me realize how privileged I am to be in America. Sometimes I feel like we take things for granted, such as free primary and secondary school. There are numerous cases of high school drop-outs in the U.S. and still, these children in Thailand would do anything in their power to even get a chance to go to high school, like the kids in the Hmong Village. We take for granted that the U.S. has financial aid services that help with college tuition and that we don’t necessarily have to pay college all on our own.
I can now understand and truly appreciate children and education from witnessing these two cases while in Thailand. It is no wonder why my own parents always encouraged me to go to school and get good grades at a young age, because my parents lacked a formal education while growing up in Thailand and in the U.S. Our future in the hands of our children, and we can all work together to overcome these barriers that take children away from these privileges they deserve.