Thailand or “the Land of Smiles” has a warm climate with endless sun shinning upon plentiful fruit trees. It’s a country known by it’s multitude of extravagent Buddhist temples and extrordinarily friendly people. According to Thai culture, hospitality to family is valued above everything else. Maintaining one’s independence in life is of a lesser importance than taking care of the family. It’s a common gesture to welcome anyone who needs food and shelter into the household.
The family system is strong as grandparents, parents, children, as well as aunts, cousins, in-laws, and other extended family members tend to live in the same house or home system. It’s seen as honorable for the parents to work even if that means they have to be separated from their children. They sacrifice time with their kids to give their children a better life than they had with the money they earn. This in turn earns the parents a merit (In Buddhism, a result of good deeds that carry over the person’s lifetime).
Children with parents away having the higher percentage of 25% with developmental problems.
“Every child has the right to grow up in a caring, loving, and safe environment” expresses the head of UNICEF Thailand. A year studying the issue and findings are continuing to develop to show the effects of parental migration. In the first portion there was a 9% difference when comparing children with developmental delays. Children with parents away having the higher percentage of 25% with developmental problems.
3 Million, or about 21% of Thailand’s population, are left behind children being raised by extended family mostly in rural areas. 90% live with grandparents, most of whom have only a primary school education, and are at risk themselves of financial instability and mental health issues. These children are often behind in language skills in school and have behavior problems. Grandparents and young children have an age gap that often hinders their ability to relate to the pain they feel, which limits conversation and opportunity for personal growth.
Traditionally migrant workers go to the east for work in the cities and visit family once a year during spring festival. Recently many are going back home in the west looking for opportunities close by. This is because of the high living expenses in the city. Most used to search for work in major cities but the costs of living is too high. The salaries of migrant workers and increase in living expenses means more migrant workers, this year, are deciding to stay near home.
Migrant workers are becoming local business owners because the villages are developing faster than ever, which is creating more jobs. This is good news for families who wish to stay together in their homes.
Shuangyan thinks that his parents are abandoning him for a bright, fun-filled, busy city that is more vibrant and fast-moving than his sleepy village. It’s the fact that in the city they earn more money than in their village. “Since 1978 China has experienced the largest internal migration in history.” The rise in globalization is contributing to the issue that creates more and more children being left by migrant parents. Left behind children have a difficult time in school, relationships, and later in life.
Global Children’s Vision aims to empower boys like Shuangyan. They are not defined by their circumstances. LBC have the right to have success in their lives. We believe that it is important for children left with extended family to have quality schooling. Loneliness, depression, and outbursts are also common amongst LBC and can be dealt with by utilizing psychological counseling. The kids can’t always find the words to say when talking to their parents over the phone. With guided communication over phone and internet they can learn how to maintain a healthy relationship with their parent.
The good news is that change is coming. More families are choosing to stay home with their children. Housing in cities costs more than their salaries so the best bet is to create work at home. Yet, parents are tempted to take low-paying jobs in the city over no jobs at home to provide a better life for their children. It’s a difficult decision that affects the entire family. Let’s see how the pattern progresses in the coming years.
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One of the largest migrations in human history, rural poor workers are traveling to cities where the jobs are. China’s economic boom is partly caused by an increase of migrant workers willing to work for low wages. The high costs of living and long work hours force parents to leave children to be raised with grandparents in the villages until they earn the money to take them to the city.
A young girl talks to her parents over the phone while they are away. She is the first to use the free phone at school. It is a difficult call to make. She cries saying, “I’m not used to chatting with them…usually I just answer their questions,” (Youtube).
It is heart-breaking to hear the individual stories of children apart from their parents who are living in the city to work. A teacher at the end of the video implores the public to see that left-behind children are hard-working and independent. At the same time they lack the ability to trust others.
A plea for time off was discovered on the door of Jianba hairdressers in the southern city of Zhuzhou. Hairdresser Wu Hongwe addressed the note to customers with the message, “I got a call from my daughter yesterday. I have been away from her so long, she doesn’t even know how to call me ‘Daddy’ any more… I beg you for a week off to visit my family,” (Wan). Wu’s daughter Beibei has become accustomed to calling her parents Mum and Dad, with the mentality that they are just their names. With so much time and distance between the child and her parents, they have become strangers to her. “Mama” has no meaning. The countryside where she lives is a healthy environment and has a low cost of living unlike her parents’ city. She grew up with her native dialect and has a difficult time understanding her mother’s Chinese.
What hurts her parents the most is that their daughter does not know what it is like to have a mother. They have set a goal of working to gain enough money to bring her into the city by February this year.
Within the next week, there will be a research launch on “They are Parents: A Study on Migrant Workers of Left Behind Children in China” with conferences in Beijing and Shanghai. CCR CSR report launch will share a study from the perspective of working parents, (Zhang). We need to realize that these migrant parents do what they do because they think it is what is right for the well-being of their children. Don’t we all want what is best for our kids? Now we have the mission to provide the educational and social services to left-behind children to promote their emotional development. Global Children’s Vision strives to equip LBC with the tools to succeed in life.
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