FOR THE PEOPLE
OF SURIN ISLAND
Childline Thailand has teamed up with
Plan International on a five year project
to assist a small ethnic community in
Phang Nga Province, Thailand.
WHAT IS SURIN ISLAND?
The Moken people are a marginalised group known as “Chao Lay” or “Sea Gypsies” and the population of Surin Island is around 430 people. Unfortunately, this small community, whose livelihoods depend upon fishing, is prohibited from commercial fishing on the island due to its National Park status. Much like other marginalised communities, such as the Aborigines of Australia and the native Indians of North America, ‘a culture of poverty’ is prevalent. Such issues include domestic violence, gambling, alcohol abuse, malnutrition, tuberculosis and other diseases.
The community and mainland area were among those severely affected by the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004. A number of Government and non-government organisations assisted in the years that followed but much of the problems associated with poverty have prevailed. Together with locals on the mainland and leaders in the community, Childline’s team began planning work back in January of this year.
“THE MOKEN PEOPLE HAVE BEEN DEPRIVED OF THEIR BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS”
This has led to entrenched poverty issues and difficult living conditions. The community has never had the opportunity to dream. If the elders of the community can not dream, this leaves very little opportunity for the development of the next generation. Our hope is that we can help them to establish their dream so that they may plan for the future of their children. The Surin Islands (หมู่เกาะสุรินทร์) is an archipelago of five islands in the Andaman Sea, located 55 km from the Thai mainland. This makes access to the islands very difficult, particularly when seas are rough. Administratively, the islands are part of Tambon Ko Phra Thong, Amphoe Khura Buri.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PROJECT FOR ISOLATED COMMUNITY OF SURIN ISLAND
Issues faced by the Monken people:
Overcrowding, slum-like living conditions with underdeveloped infrastructure and waste management.
More than half the community is stateless.
Only available education is the Program for External Basic Education – no options for professional or higher education.
The island has no professional health services – travel to the mainland hospital is expensive.
No good employment opportunities on the island.
No welfare services on the island.
Create multilateral forum of stakeholders between Department of National Parks, Department of Fisheries, Local Administration under the Ministry of Interior and the Royal Thai Navy.
Secure legals status of all the children on the island.
Improve access to health and welfare services.
Improve the island’s education system.
Increase employment opportunities.