All children born in Thailand, regardless of their ethnicities, must be registered at a district office to obtain their Birth Certificates, the very first official documents issued by the government which indicate whom they descend from and confirm their identity. Birth Certificates are the passes to their entitled lawful rights.
Unfortunately, according to the survey data from the National Statistical Office, it is found that quite a number of children are without Birth Certificates, especially as many as 79% of migrant children. This is because their mothers or caregivers are not aware that they need to bring the Medical Birth Certificates issued by the hospital to obtain the Birth Certificates from the district office. As a result, these children end up having neither access to the government’s medical, educational or other services nor protection of their basic rights. This leads to their deprivation of opportunities for self-development in all dimensions. Even worse, they may fall prey to human trafficking and exploitation due to the absence of the identification document.
World Vision Foundation of Thailand, with budget support from European Union, has carried out Empowering Civil Society Organizations for the Protection of Migrant Children (ECPMC) Project in 3 districts of 3 provinces – Mueang district of Ranong province, Mueang district of Chumphon province and Mae Sot district of Tak province. The focus is to raise the awareness among migrants and support them to have understanding about the importance of children’s entitled basic rights, as well as to promote birth registration of migrant children.
“I have served as the interpreter at Pak Khlong Sub-district Health Promotion Hospital,” said Joseph, a 38-year-old Migrant Health Volunteer of ECPMC Project in Ranong as he started to elaborate on his responsibilities. “I also educate Myanmar women who come to receive antenatal care, as well as other patients, on the process of obtaining a Birth Certificate and the benefits from it.”
Each day Joseph, along with other Migrants Health Volunteers, gives suggestions and consultations to an average of 20 Myanmar labors who come to receive services at the sub-district health promotion hospital. Sunda is among them. She has got the information she had never received before on her antenatal visit, due to the efforts of these Migrant Health Volunteers. She articulated, “I’m glad that someone realizes the importance of this. I’ve become aware of the importance of the Birth Certificate. I want my kid to have a good life and good education.”
Not only migrants who have been benefited from the clarification about Birth Certificate, but the work of staff at the sub-district health promotion hospital has also gone smoother with the help from ECPMC Project Migrant Health Volunteers. Sompong Chai-narong, the Director of Pak Khlong Sub-district Health Promotion Hospital said in a rejoice, “The interpreters have helped us a lot. It was quite hectic earlier as we needed to ask the other patients who understood Thai language to help translate.”
Besides, ECPMC Project Migrant Health Volunteers also have the responsibility to conduct 1-3 sessions of training to provide knowledge on Birth Certificate in the migrant community on a monthly basis at the Community Primary Health Care Center. They also give consultations to migrants whose children do not have Birth Certificates.
“I would like to help my fellow Myanmar people, so that they don’t need to buy medicine by themselves when they get sick as it is not safe. And I want Myanmar children get to go to school,” said Joseph, who has graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in English language, explaining his reason of joining ECPMC Project.