Lily’s parents moved from Cambodia to Thailand 14 years ago, before Lily was born. Thailand is a major destination for migrant workers – particularly those from Cambodia – who travel across borders to seek employment opportunities.
"I used to dream of someone coming and taking me to school”
Like Lily’s parents, a significant number of migrants end up working in the fishing industry with little or no labour protection. Lily’s father passed away when she was only seven months old. “I do not know how my husband died, explains Lily’s mom, I think it was just from exhaustion”. The family remembers that the father would spend one month at sea and then rest for three days, before returning to the boats. Since that incident, no one in Lily’s immediate family has worked on the fishing boats. “It’s very dangerous,” adds the mother.
Migrant children in fishing communities also suffer from the lack of recognition of their basic human rights, including the right to education. A large portion of children do not attend school and are at the highest risk for ending up in exploitative work situations. Lily and her three brothers had never attended school. In fact, Lily is the first child in their family to have access to any form of education thanks to Plan International’s learning centers.
These centers are part of SEAS of Change project (SEAS: Stopping Exploitation through Accessible Services) launched by Plan International in Thailand and Cambodia.
Because quality education is the key to prevent child labour and protect children, Plan International has set up education facilities across three provinces in Thailand. They provide language support (Thai, Khmer and English), mathematics and life-skills training for young migrant children from Cambodia.
“I was nervous at first, but I told myself: ‘I need to work very hard so I can learn to read and write’. I’ve always wanted to go to school. I used to dream of someone coming and taking me to school” Lily adds. “School helps to guarantee a good future. I want to be a doctor and take care of others”.
In addition to providing free daily classes for the Cambodian children, the learning centre also assists children in their transition into Thai public primary schools in their localities. Simultaneously, Plan International educates parents and community members about the importance of education and non-hazardous work.