One of our goals is to educate and empower children and their families so they can have the tools to protect themselves from exploitation. Of course, knowledge is not enough; family and community support is also needed for success. This is why we have begun visiting the families of some of the children who attend our Child and Family Empowerment Program. We have enjoyed getting to spend time with the parents in a Lahu tribal village in Doi Saket and hearing their dreams and hopes for their children as well as their concerns for how to provide them with a good education and good life. One mother told us, "this is the first time anyone from outside our village has cared enough to ask us how we feel and what our needs are."
While we alone are not enough to fix every issue the families may have, we can at least be a listening ear and support them where we can. One issue they mentioned is the nearest high school is so far away, most families can't drive their children there and make it to work on time. This means most children must live away from their families while they attend school after sixth grade. We can't do much about building and staffing a school closer to home, but we can help in other areas, such as connecting children with medical help, or assisting in obtaining Thai citizenship.
We were so pleased to see that 15 parents and guardians came to learn about Children's Rights after church let out for the day. We had every child in the village there and they all had a great time. This was the first time we taught this subject to kids younger than 7th grade, so they didn't retain it all, but we are glad their parents were there to learn about human rights so they can fight for their kids' rights if need be. The most exciting thing to see was that two of the kids who attended had actually come to our very first training in January, which was held at their middle school. When we asked them what the four types of children's rights are, they knew the answer right away! So, we are excited to see that the knowledge is sticking and hope that if they encounter injustice in the future, they will remember what they learned and use it to defend themselves!