Bangkok Street Children

Life under globalization’s towering shadow is certainly not an easy one for many of Bangkok’s less well off residents, and this is no better illustrated than in the lives of the many street children of Bangkok.

Forced to work often not just to feed themselves, but also their families as well, these children can be seen hanging around at all of Bangkok’s major nightspots, from Sukhumwit road to Khao San road, Patpong to Ratchada. Selling anything from flowers and pens to candies and toys, these kids are faced with a daily struggle for survival yet they have no other choice.

All of these children come from poor families, either broken homes or homes where sick parents are unable to work. With Thai society offering little in the way of state welfare, families and children forced into such poverty have little choice but to send the kids out to work.

On the face of it though, some of these children seem anything but miserable. They look happy, smiling and laughing with foreigners as they try to peddle whatever it is they are selling. They often speak very good English and are happy to challenge you to a bet in order to get you to buy something from them.

Many foreign visitors are taken in by these kids, and end up giving them whatever they ask for whatever it is they are selling, but what most of them don’t realize is that often enough, the child won’t get to keep a single cent.

Bangkok Street Children

Image by Sailing “Footprints: Real to Reel” (Ronn ashore) via Flickr

While some of the street kids are local, many of these children are usually refugees from Burma, Cambodia or Laos, sold to local mafia, and forced out to work to pay back their debt. They struggle to sell their quota each day, and often have to work 12 hour days or longer with little food or rest, until their ‘owners’ are satisfied with their earnings for that day. Then, they will go back ‘home’ to a tiny hovel that is shared with several other kids, eat a small meal before setting out to work the next day.

Please bear this in mind when you visit Bangkok. Giving them money is a difficult call to make, as some of them really do need the money to help their families, but for many they are simply money making tools of local criminals. If you’re unsure but you still want to help, one thing you can do safely is to buy the child something to eat, rather than give them money. This way you can be sure that the child is definitely receiving something worthwhile.

Bangkok Beyond helps the Kids of Bangkok

Bangkok Beyond wants to use a share of our gross profit to help people in need. One of our partners here is the Phayathai Babies’ Home in Bangkok. You can read more on what they are doing on our website in the article Helping the Kids of Bangkok.

You may join us our group on Facebook: Help Kids in Bangkok

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