14-year-old “Tookta”, values her education so much that she used to help her mother scavenge for leftover cassava shrubs from neighbors’ farms to dry and sell for 6 baht per kilo. Sometimes, they also forage in the nearby forest for tender bamboo shoots which they can sell or eat, often working till 1am.
Tookta, who dreams of studying law, and joining either the army or police when she graduates, needs the money to pay for her books, uniforms, and other school supplies.
That seems quite a challenge when her father, a day laborer, barely earns enough to support the family. Her mother, Keaw, 53, is unable to gain formal employment as she does not have proper documentation even though she is resourceful and hardworking; she once built a chicken coop out of materials she had gathered.
As if money wasn’t a big enough concern, Tookta and her family also worried constantly for their safety. She lives with eight other family members in a small house with makeshift walls in Phu Sawan village, located within Thailand’s western Ubon Ratchanthani province.
With no access to electricity and no lights, except for one solar panel, it is unsafe for the women in the household to be out at night.
So to help her continue on in her education, the Health and Share Foundation (HSF), through the support of AEF, has awarded Tookta a scholarship. This assistance enables Tookta to work less and focus on her studies, while the family can afford more nutritious food.
Beyond that, HSF is funding the construction of proper walls for the house, much to the relief of Tookta.
“I feel protected and safer now,”
The 5-year partnership between HSF and AEF seeks to improve the quality of life of vulnerable Thai and Lao communities in Ubon through access to healthcare, rights and building stronger communities to help themselves—many of whom currently have no documentation.