[skip to content]

In pictures: School's in for the Moken

  • For many Moken boys and girls, there is little inspiration to stay in school. Most of their parents have never experienced school and don't see value in it.

    For many Moken boys and girls, there is little inspiration to stay in school. Most of their parents have never experienced school and don't see value in it.

  • Moken boys tend to follow in their father's footsteps and enjoy fishing and swimming in the sea while the girls generally stick with their mothers. Moken girls often marry young and drop out of school.

    Moken boys tend to follow in their father's footsteps and enjoy fishing and swimming in the sea while the girls generally stick with their mothers. Moken girls often marry young and drop out of school.

  • These Moken girls, who live on Lao Island in Ranong, have to take a boat from their village on one part of the island to school on another part.

    These Moken girls, who live on Lao Island in Ranong, have to take a boat from their village on one part of the island to school on another part.

  • Plan supports the school on Lao Island to help the girls and boys get the education they need to be able to better support themselves and their families in the future.

    Plan supports the school on Lao Island to help the girls and boys get the education they need to be able to better support themselves and their families in the future.

  • This is the Moken village on Lao Island. The stigma that comes with being Moken means many girls and boys try and hide their heritage for fear of being bullied at school. Wider understanding of the Moken would lead to greater acceptance.

    This is the Moken village on Lao Island. The stigma that comes with being Moken means many girls and boys try and hide their heritage for fear of being bullied at school. Wider understanding of the Moken would lead to greater acceptance.

  • The Moken have historically been sea-based, nomadic fisherfolk, but with development on the mainland and the impact of the tsunami and competition from the global fishing industry, the Moken have had to look for other ways to survive.

    The Moken have historically been sea-based, nomadic fisherfolk, but with development on the mainland and the impact of the tsunami and competition from the global fishing industry, the Moken have had to look for other ways to survive.

  • The Moken language isn't a written one and so this valuable part of Moken culture is under threat.

    The Moken language isn't a written one and so this valuable part of Moken culture is under threat. "We don't want our language to disappear and we want the next generation to preserve it or else the Moken culture will be gone,” says Green (right), 14.

  • It's easy to see what the Moken value most in life.

    It's easy to see what the Moken value most in life. "Our community is beautiful: we have the beach, the sea, the mountains and the trees. We prefer the island as it is near the sea and there is less noise and crowds," says Chuli (centre), 12.

Moken moments

December 2011: For the 10,000 or so Moken Sea Gypsies who live scattered around south Thailand, adjusting to life after the tsunami has often meant finding ways of making a living other than the traditional fishing methods they have relied on for centuries. In recent years, many Moken communities have had to settle on parts of the mainland where their ethnic-minority status has left them without land rights or access to basic services.
 
Plan works with Moken communities such as on Lao Island in Ranong province, where every day about 50 Moken students make the trip by boat to learn to read, write and make friends.
 
For the Moken boys and girls, education offers new possibilities previously unavailable to their parents, which means there is often little encouragement for children to stay in school. But for those who do, there is the possibility of a future that bridges the gap between traditional Moken culture and the way of life in the towns and the cities.
 
Check out this video and photo set by Plan to learn more about the Moken.