CMF partner Anji Barker (Urban Neighbors of Hope) was recently interviewed for an article that appeared in two Indonesian newspapers about the precarious living conditions of young children who grow up in Klong Toey, the largest slum in Bangkok, Thailand. Anji, her husband Ash Barker and their family live and work in Klong Toey.
In “Children in Bangkok Slums Facing Dire Plight,” writer Nirmal Ghosh details the depolorable living conditions, the drug use, the general feeling of hopelessness and especially the rampant child abuse that are part of everyday life in Klong Toey, as in many other urban slums. A sizeable number of children are growing up in an environment of violence and exploitation while being deprived of basic necessities, he says.
Anji Barker, who teaches children age 3 to 6 in a school in Klong Toey, sees the situation firsthand every day. During the past 10 years she has watched gang fights quickly become violent, with teenagers wielding machetes and even guns.
“Little toddlers watch these gang fights,” she said. “They grow up in the slum with violence on a daily basis. They are exposed to drug use every day. When they role-play, they role-play what they see. Some say they want to grow up to be gangsters. At the age of 3, the children use the rudest Thai swear words you can imagine.”
The slum has both government and privately-run schools, but the absentee rate is high. Anji Barker understands why that’s the case.
“If you are 6 years old and don’t want to go to school, who is there to make you when nobody cares for you?” asks Barker. “Here, the incentives have to be for the children to want to go to school, not for the adults to send them to school.”
To learn more about CMF’s partnership with Urban Neighbors of Hope and our other ministries in Thailand, click here.