At last, finally he dares to do it. I asked him a couple of times to play a ball game with me. Now, after a few weeks, he conquered his fear of that big white man. Still a little shy, he enters the gate, followed by his best friend, a dog. It doesn’t take long before he is full in the game. It’s obvious he’s enjoying the little attention I give him. His best friend though, is less pleased.
Ay lives next door. He’s 5 years old. He’s mentally limited, as he has been given wrong medicines when he was a baby. Ay lives with his granny. Granny is way too old to raise Ay. Most of the day she’s resting in front of her house. Ay’s parents live and work somewhere else in Thailand. Twice a year they come to visit Ay.
Unfortunately, Ay is not an exception. A lot of children live with their grandparents. A lot of parents from Isaan work somewhere else in Thailand. Grandparents are often too tired to run after their grandchildren. And, for them, it is often the first time they raise children themselves, because their children are raised by their grandparents as well. So children from Isaan do what they like to do. They don’t get a lot of attention and there is little discipline.
Parents work elsewhere to make money. It’s hard to find a job in Isaan. There’s little industry and because of a lack of water, rice is harvested just once a year. That’s why a lot of people leave Isaan to work in Bangkok, other parts of Thailand or abroad. Children don’t really connect with their parents, because they don’t see them for a long time. When mom and dad come to visit them once in a while, children, in particular young children, consider them as strangers.
On the one hand, children are very important in Thailand. Thai people love children. They like to play with them. Thailand even celebrates a yearly Children’s Day. On the other hand, children are not considered that important that parents stay at home to raise them by their selves. And Thai people tend to do what everyone else does. It’s a big step for them to make a choice which is different from their friends or neighbours. So it is very common to look for a job elsewhere instead of being content with less salary and maybe a second handed motorbike instead of a new one. So you’re looking for a job elsewhere, even if it means that you’re not raising your child yourself.
We, as child workers can mean a lot for children. By showing them love and attention, very basic, like we did to Ay. And by telling them about God’s commandments and His love. And that there is a Father in Heaven who will never forsake, nor leaves them.