The following is from “The Globe,” a magazine for children to learn about child rights issues around the world as a part of World’s Children’s Prize. Learn more about World’s Children’s Prize here and on their website.
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“Look one another in the eyes! Don’t stare at the ground!” Sompop calls out to the young people doing leadership training at his school in Mae Sai. The young people from the mountains are not used to showing confidence. But Sompop says: “You are the leaders of the future!”
Adults don’t understand young people
“My mother is proud of me and my education because she can’t read or write,” says Jan Nuan, 15. “Even so, sometimes she wants me to quit school and start working. That makes me sad. My father wants me to finish school so I can have a better job and life.”
Jan Nuan thinks adults don’t know enough about trafficking.
“There are gangs that kidnap children and force them to work. I’m worried about my younger sisters. My parents work a lot and sometimes they have to leave us home alone for several days. They say we should lock the doors and not open them for anyone, but it doesn’t feel safe.”
Jan Nuan’s favorite thing is being with friends. She hates it when her parents fight. Adults don’t understand us young people, and they often just do what they want. Sometimes I cry, alone in my room. But the teachers at Sompop’s school are great listeners. There, I’ve become less shy and better at expressing myself. Sompop teaches us about life, and how to be more independent.”
B-boy is best!
“Sompop is a great teacher and full of fun. He helps me to think and focus better,” says Nut,15. He has started the school’s first b-boy crew! “I’ve learned some tricks from older friends and from YouTube. My favorite dance crew is called the Jabbawockeez. They dance like they don’t have bones in their bodies!”
Nut’s dream is to travel abroad to dance, but right now that’s impossible. He was born to Burmese parents in Thailand and he has no birth certificate.
“I can’t even travel out of Mae Sai without a special permit. The police have checkpoints where they check everyone who is travelling south.”
“There are a lot of problems with drugs and criminal gangs in Mae Sai,” says Nut. “I often see girls at restaurants in tight clothes and short skirts, and I know they have to take guests to private rooms. I worry about my little sister. And I’m teaching her everything I can about how to protect yourself from trafficking.”