Every morning we head off with the Mobile Training Unit (MTU) to one of the many slums around the city. Our team consists of the Project Manager, a social worker and a teacher. There are several construction sites around Pattaya, workers are often migrants from countries such as Cambodia and Burma who come to live in these slums with their families. These children can’t go to school as they aren’t registered and tend to be confined to the slums all day with grim living conditions and a high vulnerability to sex trafficking. The MTU provides education to the children from basic cleanliness to raising awareness of the importance of education through activities and lessons.
Group activity under a tree at SK camp – the Mobile Training Unit which is part of the Human Help Network Foundation Thailand. The MTU van can be seen behind and contains lots of equipment for educational games, toothbrushes, hand wash, books and food for the children.
On arriving at the slums we get all the children together to dance which they love – jumping around, singing and laughing. This gives them the opportunity to exercise in a safe environment which is hard to find in their homes. We also teach them teach them Thai and English, personal hygiene (such as brushing teeth and washing hands) and about drugs and abuse and how to report them if put in that position. At the end of each session we leave the children with some homework which, unlike my school memories, they are ecstatic about!
Marking homework at the day centre. The children are always enthusiastic to learn and are excited about showing us their work.
Enjoying a treat paid for by a donor.
We also visit a day centre for slum children which is far more rudimentary than I expected – a glorified shack but a refuge for the children nevertheless. We sing, play games, reflect on what we had learnt from the games (incredible – some of the kids can’t have been more than 3 years old), colour and draw and bring them lunch. As the children are migrants they are obliged to pay for any medical care which they cannot afford so cuts and wounds are left without being cleaned. We completed a First Aid course before leaving the UK in preparation for our roles so each day we clean cuts and wounds and dress them so that the risk of infection is less likely.
At the end of the day the children are left nourished – tummies, minds and souls and I am left in admiration – those kids were filthy and smelt of stale pee but fiercely brave and smiling – a big family, eager to learn and grateful beyond belief.
On a Thursday nights we visit Walking Street which I have written about here. The MTU now has the local police’s permission to carry out field work on Walking Street at night which means they can establish a presence, raise awareness and offer support to the child sex workers.This also gives James the opportunity to dress as a mascot ‘superhero’ and show everyone his now world famous dance moves!!
James the MTU mascot in his element!
Without the Human Help Network Foundation and work the MTU does these children would not receive any education at all and would be at an even higher risk of grooming, trafficking and drug abuse. In addition the information collected from the outreach work is used to help tackle Pattaya’s problems and protect the children from the risks they face. It is an honour and pleasure to take part in such rewarding work and we’ll miss all the children when we leave (even the really smelly ones!).
Thank you for taking the time to read this! Until next time.