Ban San Kawe (pronounced Chawey) is a middle aged women and a mother of 8 children living in a migrant village in Mae Sot, Thailand, near the Burmese border. 60 families live in her village. Her husband has been a migrant construction worker living in the border area most of their married life. They came here from Karen State in Burma when only three of their children had been born. Her eldest is now 25 and her youngest is only 7 years old.
None of Ban San Kawe’s 8 children received a birth certificate, and this oversight did not bother her or her husband at the time. After all, most children born to migrant workers did not receive any documentation when they were born. What Ban San Kawe and other parents didn’t know was that children without birth certificates or other documentation cannot claim citizenship in Thailand or in Burma or attend school, and are far more likely to be picked up by child traffickers.
In 2005, workers from the Committee for the Protection and Promotion of Children’s Rights (CPPCR) came to Ban San Kawe’s village. CPPCR works to ensure that children of migrant workers in Thailand have legal documentation.
Since the 2000, CPPCR has worked with the Thai government to get recognition for children without documentation. Their work with the provincial government, ministry of education, and law society led to a recognition of the problem, and a concerted effort to ensure that children of migrant workers have documentation. CPPCR’s work with local schools, hospitals, and villages has helped over 25,000 children to receive some form of documentation.
The CPPCR workers who Ben San Kawe met had come to her community to raise awareness about the importance of birth registration and to inform community members of the process to register the birth of their children. Once she was aware of the importance of birth registration, CPPCR helped her to register her six children who were still under the age of 18. She now knows that the birth registration will enable her children to reclaim Burmese citizenship, and to attend schools. She thinks it’s a valuable service and must continue. Now she understands birth registration to be one of the fundamental rights of a child. It opens up opportunities for them. It helps them in finding jobs.