Mae Sai อำเภอแม่สาย (English version)

DSC04348Sometimes we think that we know what we are doing, we know how it happens or why it happens? And we even know how to solve it…we think we know everything. BUT really, we know so ‘little’.
When you meet new people or organizations that do the work which is similar to yours, it allows you to widen your knowledge and vision better. You can learn about what you didn’t know or what you think you already ‘know’ better. Sharing experiences and current situations are very important in working against human trafficking and slavery.
The other day, Team Relentless had a great opportunity to go to Mea Sai, a major border crossing between Thailand and Burma, near Chiang Rai to visit some a couple of organizations helping children and women. We started the day driving very early and visited a children’s home where most children are a hill tribe ethnic minority and/or come from the border of Thailand and Burma. Those children are at risk for being trafficked and exploited. The founder (of the home) sees the importance of children around the border area and tries to help and prevent those vulnerabilities from being exploited and giving them better place and chance for lives. Most of the children are from the street and are without effective parental supervision. At a young age, some children were sold and forced to beg for money on the street and had to return money to the dealer/parents in order to buy drugs or gamble. Where do they live? Of course, they live on the street and dig in the garbage to see whatever they can find and eat from the bottom of somebody’s left over fast food. Due to the terrible and unsafe living conditions they have been through, lack of education, and the fact that they have known nothing else in their short lives, some children end up being prostituted, working illegal jobs or turning themselves to be an abuser to the next generation… perpetuating a generational cycle of poverty and violence.
helping the children is not easy An organization and the staff have to encounter many obstacles such as dealing with government system, funding, or even helping children who can be difficult to manage (due to their lack of upbringing, affection and lack of proper manner). One important problem that cannot be overlooked is health care for children. When there are so many children from different places come and live together in one place, health care service is extremely important.
Some organization or shelter do not have staff that have a clear understanding about health care s and can’t care for children properly. For example, nutrition, giving first aid care and other problems such as fever that is very imported to be noted. And what happens if people do not have correct knowledge about health care? Yes, there will be more illness, more problems, and more medical bills for you to pay…Not worth it, right?
However, every child deserves to get a good care equally and properly so that they can grow and have a good foundation for their life.
After visiting the children’s home, our mission was still on move! We went to see a lady and her husband who have a great heart to serve God by helping the women in sex industry in Mae Sai to get out from the horrible cycle. When you hear ‘Mae Sai’, I believe that you will think of the Thai-Burma border, Shopping, Cheap CDs, Visa Run and other tourist attractions…And most of us barely think of ‘sex industry’. In fact, this business is huge in Mae Sai and some people come just for that. Buying women from the dealer, using Mae Sai as a spot to transit women to places and other kinds of sex trades all happen there. The prices for prostitution in Mae Sai is quite high (higher than Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai), and women from young age to older are sold every day. Some women do it because of the need of income; some do it as it is culturally accepted. We find that most of prostituted women have kids already, and some are even married. Moreover, the brothels, massage parlors or bars open both in the daytime and night time, some place run a different kind of business in front to cover the truth behind the back door.
Those women needs to know how important and worthy they are so that they can love and take care of themselves better as well as their children. Sex education and reproductive health, as well as comprehensive basic health needs should be addressed for that population as well. Basically, we treat them as WHOLE people.
This trip allowed me to see an overlooked truth, the obstacles for staff and organizations. Although those problems has been occurred for a long time and still happening till today, it doesn’t mean that we cannot do anything, but we can learn and understand them if we open ourselves to do so. We will know how to fix the hole and help those people properly. Finally, we should care and learn more about others and what is around us, don’t think that you know everything well enough already otherwise you might be the one that know the least.

photo 3– Written by Thanaporn Phonboon

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