We operate several schools for poor children living in construction worker campsites. Some of our schools remain open for many years; others are built in temporary camps and may be in operation only for a single year or less. Regardless how long these schools last, they are absolutely essential to the well being of the children who reside in these camps. In any given year, we are teaching over 200 children in up to ten different construction campsites.
Beneath the luxury condominiums in Bangkok, often right beside the glitzy shopping malls, it’s not unusual to come across a guarded, gated camp of corrugated tin shacks. These camps house semi-skilled construction workers, mostly from Cambodia, Laos, and Burma, who come to work in Thailand for a minimum daily wage, or less.
Their children, who have no identity documents, visas or passports, rarely venture outside the camps.
Without an on-site school, these children will never learn to read and write in any language. They will have no opportunity to socialize in a learning environment, leaving them with few tools to grow and develop. The will be stuck for the rest of their lives in the bottom end of a highly hierarchical society.
Our schools aim to give these children a chance for life.
First, we want these children to learn to read and write, and in the process to ignite a spark of love of learning. When the parents eventually and inevitably move to another construction site, it’s our hope that their children will insist on going to school.
Equally important, our construction camp schools are safe havens. The world of a construction camp may be fraught with dangers, but when children enter our schools, they must know that nothing can hurt them.
Finally, we want our construction camp kids to develop and thrive in life. To this end, we serve milk, fruit snacks, and a healthy lunch every school day. We watch and measure their growth throughout the year. And we keep our eyes wide open for any telltale signs of problems in the camp, especially regarding neglect and abuse.
The Impact of our schools:
- The construction camp children gain literacy and a love of learning.
- The children have a strong educational foundation for future studies, wherever their families eventually move.
- They make friends and learn to play just like other children.
- They are safe from the dangers of exploitation and trafficking.
- They have a future full of opportunities.