Sattahip - Superficiality hides the reality

0419-Sattahip-Boys-Praying Thailand - Burmese migrant children

Paul Murphy fms, Marist brother writes on a mission in Thailand:  

The sweet smell of the sea and the pristine azure sky creates a positive impression. Sattahip is just 30 minutes south of the sex tourism playground of Pattaya - not that it counts for anything to our migrant families. So, take a right turn off the highway onto a long, narrow, winding road and you soon realisethat this road to the coast is a one way in but a no way out for scores of Burmese migrant families.

Somehow, they survive in absolute destitution and squalor, eking out a living drying hundreds of tons of silver-sided sardines for Asian markets. There is no factory here as all the salting, cooking, drying and sorting of these fish is done in the open – well until the rain comes and then there is pandemonium! Our Living Water Foundation (LWF) conducts a school here for about fifty 7 to 14-year- old children. The school is totally dependent on LWF. The volunteer teacher (a local pastor) and his wife are Burmese and live in the community too.       LWF counsels the families, supports the school and provides one excellent meal every school day thanks to Mary's Meals Scotland.

 Sattahip itself can be a very dangerous place to be. A serious form of 'mafia' operates these fish-drying farms and wharfs. Migrants who may try to escape could easily disappear only to turn up as blanched bones on the hillside months later. As we slowly drove past the finger wharfs, unsettled Thai and Burmese 'broker' eyes were glowering when they noticed a 'Farang' (foreigner) in a solitary car passing slowly by.

Two motor bikes tailed us. Could they have taken us out had they wished? We could only guess. Police do not enter this place. Drugs and murder can go unchecked here.


These lovely oppressed Buddhist migrant workers are truly society's grassroots, trampled down - dried out and eaten by greedy people seeking something for nothing. Sadly, alcohol and drugs can be the workers only release. Our LWF's weekly visits bring much hope and joy to the kids and families. It is worth the risk. Our next visit in a few days' time will be to run a fun day for the kids with prizes and despite the 38C heat and dust, even ice cream too somehow!

St Dympna - for victims of abuse
Peace, people, planet, partnership, prosperity
 

Comments 2

Guest - Paul Frechette sm on Sunday, 07 April 2019 20:32

This is a most insightful reflection where once we see again an education can be the doorway out of danger and poverty as seen here in Thailand working among the children and young adults of the Burmese refugees from Burma into Thailand. God bless the Marists for this kind of outreach to the those on the margins, and let us pray for their safety as it is dangerous sometimes working among those who are at the margins. And let us support such efforts!

This is a most insightful reflection where once we see again an education can be the doorway out of danger and poverty as seen here in Thailand working among the children and young adults of the Burmese refugees from Burma into Thailand. God bless the Marists for this kind of outreach to the those on the margins, and let us pray for their safety as it is dangerous sometimes working among those who are at the margins. And let us support such efforts!
Guest - Paul Walsh, s.m. on Monday, 08 April 2019 08:16

this makes for pretty disturbing reading - and it is only one little corner of the misery that is inflicted on people all over the globe in little backwaters so that the rest of the world can purchase food at a "reasonable" price. I was left wondering what kind of plan there is for the project - apart from educating the children - are there are other dimensions to the work - health, conscientisation, etc? What about connections with the civilian authorities? or is it bound to remain "bandit country"?

this makes for pretty disturbing reading - and it is only one little corner of the misery that is inflicted on people all over the globe in little backwaters so that the rest of the world can purchase food at a "reasonable" price. I was left wondering what kind of plan there is for the project - apart from educating the children - are there are other dimensions to the work - health, conscientisation, etc? What about connections with the civilian authorities? or is it bound to remain "bandit country"?
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Saturday, 20 April 2019