FED/GHRE Filling the Gap for Burmese Migrants’ Rights in Thailand

On June 18 I visited Foundation for Education and Development/Grassroots Human Rights Education and Development in southern Thailand – a place called Khao Lak.

Burmese migrants’ children ready to learn thanks to Grassroots Human Rights Education And Development

The first project I witnessed was the community leader training. Burmese migrants from fisheries, plantations, and construction who came to Thailand to find work had gathered for a 2-day training. These attendees were receiving training for improving and leading community development. All were from the Phang Nga province and were there to also network with each other.  The founder said that part of the training’s purpose it to increase the awareness of the migrants’ human and labor rights. Many workers come to Thailand not knowing their rights, which then are abused by those in authority like the plantation  owners, construction company owners, and immigration authorities.

The temporary shelter and women’s center – additional services provided to Burmese migrants by FED/GHRE

The second project I visited was the education program for the Burmese migrants’ children – FED/GHRE wants to protect children’s rights by encouraging that they don’t have to work or marry young… they can stay in school. Awareness is not just for children but for the parents as well.  I sat in on activities from preschool age to the young adult, youth outreach program.  The older children receive traditional schooling in addition to democracy and human rights training.

Preschool Class

In Thailand the problem is that to integrate migrant students into public schools, money and language-fluency in Thai is required, which many children of Burmese migrants don’t have. Additionally, transportation to these schools is not easy therefore students are provided transportation via the FED/GHRE truck from certain areas to the FED/GHRE school.

One FED/GHRE staff member I met had joined this organization at age 12 and continued through the program. She is now 19 and a translator for the organization. She said without FED/GHRE she probably would probably not have any opportunity and have to marry young or work in a plantation like many of her peers. I was able to also speak with a FED/GHRE recipient who has been integrated to a Thai school. He said he has both Thai and Burmese friends there and enjoys playing football as well as art class because he loves to draw mountains and landscapes.

Before I left, I was able to stop in one last time and observe a school celebration of Aung Suu Kyi’s birthday. The students were quizzed on historical events, the life of Aung Suu Kyi, and then watched a short documentary. Although there have been public changes within (Burma)Myanmar, change has not been seen in this area with an increase in new students arriving everyday.  This group of multilingual Burmese youth in Thailand will grow up not only with math and language skills, but a with a global mindset trained in democracy and human rights.

Aung Suu Kyi’s Birthday Celebration

Jacqueline
GlobalGiving InTheField Representative | Texas

Jacqueline is an InTheField Traveler with GlobalGiving and is now making her way across Southeast Asia. Jacqueline has lived all around the U.S., Central America, backpacked along Australia’s eastern coast while volunteering for the National Park Service, western Europe, and traveled around the world. You can also follow her via Twitter.

For more information about GlobalGiving, click here. 

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