A good home is essential for a good childhood, especially for children with disabilities. Without these, a child’s hope for their future could be low. Poom is a 10-year-old boy with a slight mental disability from Chonburi Province, Thailand. His daily routine is unlike many other children in the country. His father takes him to various markets to make him beg for money for long hours. Sometimes he would only pick up Poom late at night and he would be angry and violent when he had not collected enough money.
This was a different case for Poom. With spending all day and night at markets, Poom started to smoke, to sniff glue and drink alcohol with young people and adults he met.
With proper guidance, children are able to make decisions for themselves that help protect themselves. Poom was not aware of his vulnerabilities and looked for others to support him. One day, some Thai adults got in touch with him at the Koa Chan Flea market and offered him a good job in a restaurant but they lied to him. They took him to their place and sexually abused and exploited him. “I was totally down after what they did to me. I believed them. I thought they would give me a good job with good money. But instead they abused me”, cried Poom.
Poom was fortunately identified by social workers from the Chonburi Provincial Social Development and Human Security Office in August 2020 who referred him to Anti Human Trafficking and Child Abuse Center (ATCC) shelter, which offers the most adequate support to children at risk and victims of sexual exploitation in all of Chonburi Province.
Poom said, “When I'm here, I feel so secure and very happy. I want to stay here as long as I can stay with my teacher. I have friends and a safe place to stay. Moreover, many staff look after me with love and care”.
Poom has been provided with psychosocial support (counselling) and now goes to a special school in Rayong which is adapted to his needs and capacities. He continues to receive lots of support from ATCC staff and peers. He also received legal assistance from the project. The offenders were arrested and Poom will be participating in the trial. Poom added, “I am now safe physically and mentally, and now I have a chance to go attend training and get an education that fits my needs. I do not have to worry about my safety at night”
With Terre des Hommes Netherlands’ Down to Zero project, hundreds of children like Poom are provided with shelter, counselling, and legal aid in various countries in Asia.