Tag: children

Children: Daily Struggle of Adversity in Bangkok

The National Children’s Day in Thailand, January 12, 2013, proved to be eventful dosed with the usual celebration of the government’s commitment towards enabling the child mold their characteristics and skills. Adults exhibit their desire to see a generation of disciplined and responsible young people. According to the news, there is a general agreement among stake holders that children need to work towards becoming good citizens for society’s future. Thailand expects no less.

However there has been a lack of priority placed in Bangkok, the establishment of consensus that children are equal partners to policies and activities that affect their lives. It is a worrying trend in South East Asia, with over 600 million people, that there has been a decline of general acknowledgement that marginalized children and young people are a party to building that responsible society which adults expect of them.

Read more at: http://akrockefeller.com/blog/childreninthailand/

 

girl-eating-alone-240x320

 

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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Rohingya: A Dying Community

http://akrockefeller.com/media/rohingya-the-forgotten-people/

They are branded as one of the most persecuted communities in the world by the UN, yet nobody knows their name. They are the forgotten people.

In recent weeks, the escalating violence has displaced more than 90,000 Rohingya people. Villages are being burnt, people are being abducted, concentration camps are being created, women are being raped and children mercilessly killed. The persecution against the Rohingya can be described in no other terms but that of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Check out: Burma’s Rohingya – The Human Story

 

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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A Chat With @kwanruenb The Child Rights Activist

Despite the incredible heat this morning, I walked eagerly to meet a dear friend: Kwan, an activist. Didn’t let the last minute plans stop me from rushing to the nearest MRT station. Was eager to meet her as it was a rare occasion for her to make the odd trip down to Bangkok. She had a meeting in Bangkok, although scheduled a few hours for me. 

Kwan works with disadvantaged children and refugees near the Burma-Thailand border in an almost isolated location, according to one Bangkok resident. She is a humanitarian worker who specializes in child protection and her approach towards her work has always inspired me, not to mention her sensual smile. 

I was early, not really knowing the exact location, fumbling through the madness of  finding a landmark in Bangkok. Eventually she found me, we hugged and spoke rapidly about her work, some challenges faced by refugees in Thailand Its similar, somewhat, to Malaysia however NGOs in Thailand seem more involved in the rights-based needs of the marginalized community. 

I think about the refugees in Malaysia — the absence of sustainable activism in championing the rights of refugees. Malaysia is a hub for refugees, some coming from the Middle East, and with a growing population of stateless and migrant workers. Those seeking sanctuary in Malaysia are treated as “illegal immigrants” with no rights as refugees in accordance to UNHCR; and there seems to be a bloated community of migrants from Indonesia acquiring citizenship in East Malaysia (i.e. Sabah). Obvious discriminatory policies of the federal and state governments, and yet there is barely a hiccup among Malaysian NGOs on the issues, needs and concerns of the refugee/migrant communities. 

Anyway, back to Kwan — I admire her passion for her work and the community that she represents. Amazing, as working with marginalized children is tough, taxing one’s core abilities in order to do what needs to be done, for the rights of the child.

She is a member of a small circle of child protection activists in her country. At times, I know she works against a monstrous wall of societal apathy, isolated and swamped with cases. However one person can make a difference, hopefully inspiring other Thais to action — an empowerment of justice and human rights. 

I wish her the best, and I look forward to meeting her again, just to listen to her speak, exchange opinions and see her smile.

  

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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The lost child gnawing at the edge of reality

Children, roaming aimlessly, many with worries on their faces. Faces are drawn and haggard from homelessness and work. Even when human rights are championed by the protectors of humanity, the void of child poverty grows wider. Such fiendish hypocrisy is fed by the elitism of social causes, preferring trendy concerns over beggarism.

Everyday, young people are depleted of their hopes and dreams, living at the mercy of barbaric neglect and by a knowledge-bent, refined society. It is not as if we do not have the skills and resources to respect and acknowledge the rights of young people and children. Instead we prefer the madness of ignorance, the addictive sensation of being selfish.

We, humanity, are sucked into this agony of self-righteousness. We prefer the bliss of not being poor, or marginalized. Many children are made vulnerable because of our prejudice at their way of life, their resistance against the establishment and the fact that they are poor. We are the monsters that prey on the future of streetkids, we choose to abandon them to their fate.

Homelessness and poverty

 

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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A soul seeking an end to the twisted path of misery

At night, he wanders the streets, either looking for a meal or work. He doesn’t work in an office, mind you, nor does he enjoy the comforts of an aircon environment. He goes through the garbage bins, armed with an empty sack, looking for empty bottles and any item to be recycled and sold.

He has no family, or more like he doesn’t like discussing something that brings about soul-piercing pain into his life. He sleeps alone, eats alone, and talks to himself, most of the time. He has stopped caring for the world around him; no pity for the society that barely looks at him. He knows his life is not worth the attention of the corporations, the NGOs, the masses.

He is only 17 years old. And he feels old.

A homeless boy, loss in slumber

A homeless boy, loss in slumber

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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Beating the odds in Fiji

Vivienne Bale, a 16-year-old girl with a disability in Fiji, who has beat the odds to achieve her dreams.

 

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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Visiting young friends in the plantation

The heat wave is stifling hot in Malaysia. My friends in Thailand report the same, though the humidity here is crushing – suffocating which drains the energy and leaves one hallow. My journey took me to a plantation, some 17 kilometers from a small town called Bagan Lalang. The palm oil plantation was almost in the middle of nowhere, the weather was terrible.

Surrounded by tall trees and ferns, I walked with my young guide, armed with a backpack and my mobile phone. Wasn’t much to see if you’re comfortable with the luxury of the city but I have always been fascinated with the rural environment. Swarm of insects accompanied us, must have been a few species united in a buzzing harmony. Thirst followed suit.

What trives in a plantation are the workers who break their backs in hardship and extreme poverty. Little do people know that the small community have no place to go. They live, they work, they eat, they bathe, they die in the plantations. Regardless of what you might have read, rural poverty starts in the plantations, the fishing villages, and the indigenous homes. These days many Malaysians employ migrant workers from South Asia and also from Indonesia – labour is cheap, the work is brutal and thus the locals avoid the hardship.

I visits two makeshift huts where out-of-school, marginalized young people live and work. Child labor is common in isolated places in Malaysia – whether urban or rural – life is tough for the kids. They appeared dirty and tired but greeted me with smiles and firm handshakes. That was my sixth visit so I recognized them but detecting a couple of new faces in the background. They are not only caught in the vicious cycle of poverty but also many are using drugs or substances (sniffing glue). Smoking heroin was their drug of choice. Why are the kids in such a dump? Simply because society doesn’t care enough about ‘troublesome kids’ especially adolescents who were taking drugs.

The huts were in terrible condition, and clean drinking water was in short supply not to mention their lack of capacity to buy food. I believe in harm reduction principles and practices and thus my presence at their turf was merely to check on their health, make referrals, counseling and talk about addiction. I do what I can to equip them with life skills, and help them problem-solve on financial and family related issues – many still want to go back to their families but are unable to do so because of societal prejudice and the stigma.

They are responsible young people, the youngest being 15 years old and the oldest at 23. They divide responsibilities, look after each other the best that they can. So far so good. Spent hours talking and laughing with them. Enjoyed the moments despite the blistering humidity. I do what I can but lack resources to effectively improve their quality of life. Social work has always been my passion, a calling, the need to help the poor, the vulnerable and those damned by society because of ignorance and prejudice.

I left their homes, engrossed in my thoughts, always with the feeling that I could do more for them.

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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She wanders the back lane, seeking to escape the abomination

Night. An endless orgy of multi-coloured neon lights, bright, flashing, erupting. Even at this ungodly hour the lights flow in a never-ending stream, across the tall buildings and down to the spiralling streets. The humidity is high tonight, despite living on the streets for years, she was never able to adjust – horrible heat, suffocating.

She moves cautiously through the main road, into the labyrinth. The back lanes provide an escape from the foul stench of the speeding vehicles. Though dirty, littered with broken furniture, uncollected trash and discarded bottles, she finds the back lanes to be safe. Safe from the abomination of night.

She was fortunate to have a meal today, during the lunch crowd, someone had given her enough coins. Begging on the streets during the peak-time had its advantages. She smiled thinking of it. The man had walked passed her, ignoring her out-stretched palms, but as if suddenly realising her, he walked back with a grim look. He dropped the loose change from his pocket into her cupped hands. She offered him a nervous smile of gratitude and he merely grunted in return. He was the kindness person she had met in a week. She bowed her head low, placing her palms together, touching them on her forehead. He disappeared into the sea of bodies, never to return. She sighed but continued to smile.

With the coins, she bought a bowl of noodles mixed with steaming fish broth. She remembered attacking the meal, chopsticks working furiously, pausing only to wipe the trickling soup from her chin. What a feast! Her stomach won’t be bothering her for a while at least till the night.

Snapping from her remembrance, she focuses on the present. The night. The back lanes. It was midnight but it was too early for her to sleep. She peeks at a corner, and a sudden burst of happiness erupts from her mouth. Her two friends are sitting at a pavement waving back at her. The backyard of a restaurant provides a single bulb, banishing away the darkness, basking them with light. She is happy to see her friends. She is happy that tonight she will not be alone.

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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She has no name, no identity, and she is hungry.

Nameless. She has been nameless and stateless for three seasons. She was born with a name and an identity, once a upon a time, but sadly she possess none, here on the isolated dangerous streets. The colossal city with it’s twisted concrete jungles and monstrous fast-paced roads do not offer comfort nor does it quench her ever-growing thirst and hunger. Sometimes she feels alone, helpless against the city dwellers, and hiding from the predators – they prowl so often; yet fear is something she cannot afford, not now, not ever. Many merely ignore her, despite the obvious loneliness and her pitiful appearance; while others glare cruelly or spit, or both, at her.

Her bruised feet hurts, a couple of cruel weeping blisters, blood-red to the skin. She ignores them, as always, she has other things to worry about – more pressing matters. The rumbling of her empty stomach, she hasn’t eaten all day, and it hurts. Picking up rotten scraps from the foul rubbish bin doesn’t count. Her throat hurts, sore and dry. Drinking from the rusted pipes was making her ill.

She brushes aside the weeping thoughts, she has to find food and clean water amidst the sprawling city that boast hundreds of restaurants and shops. She has to find someone who was willing to look her in the eye and take pity on her. She just needed a few notes and coins. She needs to eat, she is hungry and sick.

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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Dreaming about the past, a remembrance of loss

She woke up from her slumber, rubbing her forehead at the nagging headache. She does not mind the cold hard pavement as her bed; after all, she has been homeless for the past 3 years, living on the streets and begging for food. The city, with it’s towering monuments and buildings, has been her home; a challenging, dangerous home for a 11-year-old girl.

Her dream had disturbed her. Not a ghastly nightmare running from foul demons and evil trolls, but dreaming of living comfortably in a house with a happy family – with smiles, love and warmth poured over her. Such dreams are rare for her, though when them come, the dreams embrace her tightly. Leaves her breathless at such remembrance of the past, and she knows she will never see her family again.

She blinks her tears away, ignoring the stabbing pain in her heart. The emptiness of not having a family and home does bring about such cruel sensation. With a heavy sigh, she stands up, as the rays of sunshine hits her dirty face. She smiles sadly at the sun and waves her little hands at the pavement, her temporary home.

 

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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Follow Me:
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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Thailand
This work by Moui is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Thailand.
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