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The Land of Smiles

 

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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.

See Video: http://www.bangkokpost.com/multimedia/vdo/thailand/419287/children-left-behind

Sources:

http://www.bangkokpost.com/lifestyle/interview/419215/separation-anxiety

http://www.unicef.org/eapro/media_22694.html

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Diaries of Left-Behind Children

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.

Please refer to our site for more information about coming on a trip to China or making a donation.

Sources

http://www.ccrcsr.com/sites/default/files/Study%20Launch%20invitation_English_1212.pdf

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/chinas-parenting-problem-children-of-the-industrial-revolution-9045080.html

 

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Parents find work away from children left behind in Romania

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A woman feeds her child at a charity event in Bucharest, Romania, one of the poorest countries in the European Union. Photo: Reuters

One mother says her husband earns money in France that is not worth much there, but in Romania it is of much more worth and is used for the family. Even if they understand that a parent is working away to bring them a better life, doesn’t it still hurt the children? What is being done for the kids left behind?

“Mum doesn’t want to stay away long. She just went there to make money for me and my sister,” said Cristina, a nine-year-old who lives with her grandmother when her mother is away. (South China Morning Post)

80,000 Romanian families have both parents working abroad according to the Romanian ministry of labour. Children left behind are put in a vulnerable position as they no longer get parental care and support, expresses a psychologist for Save the Children. Romania desperately struggles from parental migration. Thankfully there have been programs put into place aiming to improve the child’s development such as day-cares and support systems. What the children need most is support and individualized attention.

The government is acknowledging the issue. A law states the parents must register before going oversees to work and allow a judge to approve of the chosen guardians. Families do not tell the government of their plans to work abroad and reliable guardians are not assigned.

Please View This Moving Trailer For A Documentary On the Romanian Tragedy – Depressed Left Behind Children in Romania Commit Suicide

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJ8pBfNlXQk&feature=share&list=PL11AC1323F619AE82

 

Sources

http://www.scmp.com/news/world/article/1393286/romanias-children-being-left-behind-their-parents-seek-work-abroad

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJ8pBfNlXQk&list=PL11AC1323F619AE82

 

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The Case of Maria and Others Left Behind

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A tragic case is of 11 year old Maria, abused at home by her mother. The mother left her in the house for three months to work in Moscow then came back as an alcoholic. She beat her and had sex in front of her damaging her child emotionally with the abuse. This story is very common. A community in Moldova, the poorest country in Europe, is suffering from economic and social breakdown caused by a collapse of state-run collective. “As a result, more than half of its working adults go abroad to earn a living wage,” (Milmo).

Another case of Adriana, 13, and 16 year old Gina moved in with their grandmother when there parents went to work in Moscow. Gina became pregnant, was banished, and lived in animal sheds. A study in 2005 found that 110,000 Moldovan children lived in a household where either one or both parents are absent,” (Milmo)

Left Behind Children are found across Europe. Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe to the east of Sweden and Denmark. It is another country dealing with temporary labor migration. This means that there is short term emigration from Lithuania parents who leave children to be cared for relatives. Most of the time it is undocumented. According to a 2007 study, 36 percent of children who stayed behind experience noticeable changes in behavior (VAITEKONIENĖ). The first case study recorded children left behind as anxious, lonely and lacking in confidence. The second case study found them to be suffering from anxiety and sadness, loss of appetite and sleep disorders. The final case study compared genders. Boys tend to develop emotional and behavioral disorders while girl are more likely to show symptoms of depression. The term “Left Behind” doesn’t seem to be used, but the problem and the solutions are similar.

Government officials have acted to raise awareness and bring about progress, A conference was held in the European Parliament in Brussels“Left Behind ‐ The impact of economic migration on children left behind and their families” addressed the issue of children left behind in the country of origin when parents move to another European country in search of employment. “This phenomenon is still underestimated and often unknown even if it concerns approximately half million children in the EU. The event gathered experts from across Europe to analyze the situation of transnational families in different European countries,” (eurochild). They addressed the effects of the migration on children and their families. The mission of Global Children’s Vision was also reflect in this conference by looking at the issue in a multi-dimentional perspective through the eyes of psychologists, sociologists, and public policy makers. Their publication on Children Left Behind is available here.
Sources
http://www.eurochild.org/en/events/details/index.html?tx_ttnews%5BpS%5D=1387864342&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=1627&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=287&cHash=dcb07a7928a165d97f945b0ee271bf47

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/independent-appeal-help-for-the-children-left-behind-2160539.html

http://www.lituanus.org/2010/10_3_06%20Vaitekoniene.html

 

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“I only go to see the kids during national holidays. The rest of the time, I have to work.” – a migrant parent

It’s Thanksgiving Eve, when America’s thoughts are on family, fresh mounds of turkey in excess, and multiple types of pies made by loved ones ready to be consumed with delight. Yet there’s a thought that comes to a mind filled with the excitement of a family reunion at the holidays and it is a thought that stops me in my tracks.

In the video a father confessed “I only go to see the kids during national holidays. The rest of the time, I have to work.” This heartbreaking truth is a result of China’s economic situation. This issue is a consequence of globalization’s affect on migration. Jobs are in the cities and children are raised by extended family members. It is a joyous reunion when left behind children are reunited with their parents. At brief times that their parents have time off from work, it is wonderful for the child to see the parent in person.

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How do we help? We can’t promise the parents a higher paying job that is closer to their child. We can’t change every government official’s mind on the issue. What we CAN do is create resources for these children and their parents that facilitate communication, extra psychological care, higher academic quality, and education for the parents and grandparents on problems LBC may face.

Left behind children may have wonderful and caring parents but the parents are put in a situation where a choice have to be made either to be unemployed and raise their child in a poor village or work far away in the city and provide their child with a better quality of life. There are social and emotional consequences unfortunately for these children. A sense of abandonment and an increase depressive and anxious feelings is common in LBC. Left Behind Children are not only in China, but are all around the world. Philippines has around 9 Million (CNN) and Indonesia has around 1 Million (UNICEF), Moldova has 177, 000 and Romania is at 350, 000 (icmhd).

As it is Thanksgiving, we reflect on what we have. We have a greater appreciation for food, shelter, friends, family, work, and an education. Reach out to those in need during this holiday season and learn more about the ways you may use your gifts to empower the future for these neglected children around the world!

 

Sources

http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/03/world/asia/philippines-forgotten-children

http://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/iwp2005_05.pdf

http://icmhd.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/migration-displacement-and-children-left-behind-clbs/

 

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