Children and adolescents flee their homes for numerous reasons, be it to escape from abusive homes or from domestic violence. They are often refused access to education and run the risks of growing up in an environment where child exploitation including drug abuse, illegal labour, and trafficking remain unchecked. Over 500 kids in Thailand go missing each year, many are never to be found.
In the attempt to raise awareness on the plight of these youths in Thailand, Sati Foundation in collaboration with the HUB Saidek and the Paron School of Art recently organised a workshop that brought together two groups of kids from two very different worlds. For an entire day, children from Hub Saidek, many of whom are runaways, and students from Harrow International School engaged in games and workshop activities. “Hub kids come from all over Thailand. Because it is close to Hua Lumpong train station, it attracts kids that have run away from home and taken the train into Bangkok,” says Sakson Rouypirom, founder of Sati Foundation. “We wanted these two groups of children to be able to interact and learn from each other through arts and crafts while also broadening their creative minds.”
Art is one of the most powerful tools for enabling children in particular troubled children to come out of their shells. With that in mind, the main activity of this fun-filled day was the decoration of a public bus by the children who were asked to draw emoji faces on giant stickers which were then stuck on the outside of the bus. Despite their differences and sometimes language barrier, the children teamed up successfully in this joint endeavour, with laughter and smiles all around as they spent the day adorning the bus and exercising their creativity. “The aim is for people to become aware of the problems of runaway children as the decorated bus drives around the city. Following its regular scheduled route, this bus no, 48 will run through both rich and poor areas of Bangkok. The idea is that this is a problem that can affect anyone regardless of class or status,” says Sakson. In addition to the smiley mural, a catchy slogan and a hotline number for youths in need of help are prominently featured on the side of the bus.
This hippie public bus no. 48 will be travelling around central Bangkok until April 15. Be sure to keep an eye out, take pictures, share it and help spread the message. Let us not turn a blind eye to the presence of this very real problem in our society.