This Socktober we are encouraging students to learn what life is like for children from Thailand, specifically those from slum areas in Bangkok, the bustling capital.
Thailand is bordered by Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and China, with coastlines on the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. Like Australia, Thailand is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy, which means its head of state is King Maha Vajiralongkorn but its lawmaking and governance is done by an elected parliament. Unlike its neighbours, Thailand managed to avoid being ruled by Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, French or British colonisers throughout the era of Western imperialism in the region.
Thailand is known as the 'Land of a Thousand Smiles', a country renowned as much for the warmth of its people as for the warmth of its weather. For this reason, and for its abundance of beaches, resorts and beautiful nature, over 30 million tourists per year normally make their way to Thailand. The enromous hospitality and tourism industry, combined with sizable financial and agricultural trades, makes Thailand one of the biggest and fastest growing economies in the world.
Despite this, Thailand also exhibits staggering wealth inequality. In 2018, the wealthiest 10% of Thai people held over 85% of the nation’s wealth, while the poorest half of the population accounted for under 2% of all wealth. Around 7% of the Thai population of 69,480,520 people live under the poverty line.
Sadly, Thailand is also a major centre for human trafficking, particularly of children and vulnerable people. Sexual exploitation constitutes the majority of cases of trafficking, and it is now the primary form of modern slavery in Thailand. The children most at risk are those living in poverty in city slum areas, especially if there is nowhere safe to stay during the day when their parents are working.
Many organisations and missionaries are working to eliminate some of the root causes of these issues, focusing on alleviating poverty through education.
The Good Shepherd Sisters Kindergarten Centre
The Good Shepherd Sisters in Bangkok run a Kindergarten where they take care of 140 children of the women who work at the Fatima Training Centre and other small children from poor families in the neighbourhood, who are at risk. They also provide education, health care and nutritional meals.
Building a foundation for children to develop a positive sense of self-worth is part of the Good Shepherd Sisters’ Mission.
Watch the videos below to learn more:
Prayer time at the Good Shepherd Sisters Kindergarten Centre
Click and drag the mouse to navigate the view 360 degrees.
This is the Kindergarten run by the Good Shepherd Sisters in Bangkok, Thailand. Here, the children are praying. What do you notice about how they are praying? Find out what prayer they’re using. How is this the same or different at your school?
Singing to welcome a new day
In Thailand, it is customary for everyone to begin and end each day by singing the same song. This song was written and composed in 1939 and its words speak of unity, patriotism, peace and sacrifice. It is played on radio and television at 8am and 6pm every day, and the children and staff at the Good Shepherd Sisters Kindergarten Centre stand and proudly sing. Can you guess what this song is? Click and drag with your mouse to turn around and see why everyone is facing the same way.
What do you notice about the playground where the children are playing? What games are the children playing? Can you see the Catholic Mission sockball? How is the sockball different to other balls being used on the playground? Click and drag with your mouse to follow it around the playground! As you look around, write down 5 different things you think the children would enjoy about their playground.
Read and reflect on the scripture passage used for the World Mission Month Liturgy and the Mass (Luke 4:16-21). What does it mean to "bring good news to the poor"? What was Jesus telling the people in the Synagogue?
Explore the Catholic Social Teachings. Choose three CSTs and reflect on how they might apply to the work of the Good Shepherd Sisters.
“It’s about giving a chance to the children. And when they get that chance, they will be able to look forward and they will be able to stand for themselves in the society for their future. Even if they have no one, we can stand by them.”
– Sr Chalaad, Good Shepherd Sisters, Bangkok.
- Using your favourite type of media, develop a response to this statement, drawing on a story of encounter from your own experience.
- Explore the connection between the Catholic Social Teaching in each Mission Pack and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Develop Mission and Action plans to raise awareness of, and support for, The Good Shepherd Sisters in Bangkok, that include references to both.
- There are even more ways you can help children in Thailand through Prayer, Advocacy and Fundraising.