Meeting the children in the care of Peuan Peuan- Friends International in Bangkok
Friends International in Bangkok works with children and families who have migrated illegally to the city in search of work or to beg, who are from Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and rural areas of Thailand. Often these children and families are arrested and placed in detention centers while they wait to be sent back to their country. Friends International provides education and support during their detention and assist them to find sustainable solutions for education or employment upon their return to their home country.
For more details, see Friends International website.
We started the workshops the Tuesday Morning at 9am in the Peuan Peuan centre. We met the day before Vuthaya, the manager of Friends International Bangkok in order to organize the schedule of the three days workshops. As we thought thanks to Skype, she is very dynamic and smiley.
The team who works with us is composed of 6 members in addition of Vuthaya.
We will also meet some staffs from the government shelter where the children stay.
As we did in Vientiane a couple of weeks ago, we plan to run 3 workshops: 1 dedicated to the openness-to-the world and 2 dedicated to painting. We also let to the staff a notebook with additional plastic art activities that can be done with the children after we leave. We bring all stationary to realize the workshops and even more for later.
Children are only composed of young boys (between approximately 7 and 16 years old).
On Tuesday Morning, after a small presentation about our project, we realize the workshop about the knowledge of the world.Most of them know the name of the countries around Thailand but they don’t know the shape. The emulation of the group to find the countries convinces even the shy children to come at the blackboard to stick some of the countries. It is always more difficult for the European countries but thanks to the football’s team, they know some countries (England, Spain, Italy…). We ask the staff members to recognize the last countries, giving sometimes some clues like food specialities or capital’s name.
At the end of this workshop, we show our passports and explain to the children that it is very important to have some papers when crossing the borders. Some of them arrived in Bangkok without any papers.
During the break, some children com to ask us some questions: “Are we afraid to do the travel alone?”, “Are we scared to sleep in a tent?”, “Do we miss our family?”, « Where is Indonesia? »… They seem happy of our presence.
After the break, we start to run the first workshop about self-portraits. We have only time to perform the drawing. Some of children woke up very early to prepare some lunch for people still suffering from the flood.
After putting everything in order in the room, the Friends International staff invites us for the lunch. Great! We have more time to discuss, they told us that the workshops are also a break for them because of the flood, they have more work and the transports are completely perturbed.
After the lunch, we go back home by bus and subway. During the travel by bus in the North of Bangkok, we see quarters with still 60 cm of water. Some people go out from the bus and have water until their knees. It is quite incredible to imagine that the water is flowing back so slowly. Some cars are parked on the highway, apparently, they have been there for a while.
In the centre of Bangkok, there is no water anymore, the only clues are all the sand bags let in front of many shops.
When we arrive at Peuan Peuan centre, we are very surprised to see some children already there. The goal of the morning is to paint the drawings that they have performed the day before. Thanks to the staff, the children are well managed. It is sometimes difficult for them to do the first time a good texture of paint or to be soft with the brush but as usual we are impressed by their skills. Some take some liberties: painting the background with squares or inventing a physical particularity.
The time for painting changes a lot according to the children, but the latest seem not to be perturbed by the noise of those who have already finished and take their time to finish their portrait. During that time, some children play with the camera and make some masterpieces:
They have been concentrated for more than two hours so we and the staff proposes two games outside. The first one is “the hat”. Children are split in 2 teams, each team member has a number and a member of Friends International ask for a number. The child who succeeds to bring the hat or something else back to his team has win. They enjoyed a lot. The second was: 1 2 3 Sun!
Around noon, we let the children and go back to the same restaurant with Friends International team.
The children know us more and they directly come and ask us the stationary. The last workshop is a self-portrait « in the manner of Niki de Saint Phalle ». This is funnier because the contour lines are very simple and over-dimensioned (big nose, big lips…).
First, we asked them to follow the instructions step by step with the drawing pen and after, the idea is to choose only 4 bright colours, without doing any mix. The children perform rather quickly this activity and seem to have fun. They become more confident with painting. At the end, we cut around the faces and stick them on a black sheet of paper. The results are fantastic!
We don’t have much time to say good bye to them but we have the feeling that they had fun these three days. We enjoyed a lot the time spent with Friends International team, they are doing a hard job and we hope that we could help them a little bit.
Don’t hesitate to have a look to their website and give a small contribution to this great association!
Here are below the children’s paintings. Aren’t they great!?
And in the manner of Niki de Saint Phalle: