The Faces of UNICEF in Thailand
For UNICEF’s 75th Anniversary, our staff reflect on their moments of hope amid crises
From short-term humanitarian relief and child survival programmes to long-term development programmes and policy advocacy – UNICEF together with our partners and supporters have contributed to defeating diseases, providing essential services, education and skills and developing healthier and safer environments for children and their families across the globe and in Thailand.
The world is again facing multiple crises, but with disruption comes opportunity. Our staff in Thailand are committed to ensuring COVID-19 recovery for children and families. To mark 75 years of UNICEF’s work for children, we asked them about their moments of hope during the toughest of times.
Kyungsun Kim, UNICEF Representative for Thailand
As a mother who can provide good food, health care, quality education and a safe environment for my three children, the question that drives me every day to work for UNICEF is – how can we bring changes so that what I provide for my children is the norm for all children, not a privilege?
I believe all humans are created equal, and I have an obligation to help those families that are trapped in cycles of poverty or discrimination and struggle to make ends meet. I am honoured to have a profession that helps me fulfil that obligation to those who just want the best for their children.
In my work for UNICEF, I think of myself as someone who breaks down barriers and builds bridges. I channel and translate the good will of institutions and individuals, who have the resources to help children, into reality and solutions that last.
There is an infamous jungle called Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama. Families risk their lives to cross it on their way to Mexico and the United States in search of a better life. What used to wait for them in Panama after that terrifying journey were not even basic facilities while they waited for permission to continue their journey.
During my time in Panama, UNICEF started providing basic health checks, vaccines, nutrition and safe drinking water for the travelling families there. We even set up child-friendly tents, where children could be breastfed and have a sense of normalcy, as some spent months waiting in temporary shelters. I found that to be some of the most rewarding work in my career.
Temika Satayawiboon, UNICEF Social Policy Programme Assistant
In working for children, I am following in my father's footsteps. He continues to do volunteer work with children, long after his retirement.
I remember when I went on a mission in Krabi to help the children affected by the 2004 tsunami, and I was in shock. I was on ground zero, and the scene there saddened me profoundly.
We teamed up with the government, private sector, UNDP and other partners to set up temporary shelters on Phi Phi Islands and raise funds to provide vocational training for women and psychosocial support for children. We also worked to improve access to nutrition, sanitation, safe drinking water and scholarships.
Ten years later, I had the chance to meet with the people that we helped. I was so happy to see those that had everything taken from them finally have their lives rebuilt. That’s all I could ever ask for.
Santi Siritheerajesd, UNICEF Child Protection Officer
I started in the business sector and then turned to human rights and the humanitarian field, for what is now three quarters of my career. From working with refugees to working with children, I have seen how it is possible to make a difference in people’s lives.
I find great joy in finding ways and strategies to advocate for children at UNICEF and am inspired to work directly with them and see their development and enthusiasm for driving change in our society. I am always exploring new partnerships and networks and following the latest developments to understand what children and young people are going through and care about.
Five years ago, I witnessed the nationwide launch of a regional centre on the protection of children, youth and family institutions with the Office of the Attorney General. Our work together began with improving the operation manual for public prosecutors and has since grown to training them in child protection and restructuring the regional centre. Our work still continues, but the centre has already gone a long way in helping children access child protection services in the justice system.
Rasa Pattikasemkul, I Am UNICEF Volunteer Leader Programme Coordinator
I can understand how children feel and the problems they face. Although I had the chance to study abroad for university, I grew up in a province where people drank water from rainfall. I walked through a paddy field every day to get to school in a village. Having been in both worlds made me realize how much of a gap there is and whenever I can narrow this gap, it's an opportunity that I seize and can't ignore.
I engage with UNICEF supporters to establish and maintain a good relationship. People approach us with a good heart and a strong drive to give children better opportunities and realize their potential, but they might not know where to start. It's a privilege for me to help these people, support them in their journey and equip them with the right skills and tools.
I am in charge of the I Am UNICEF Volunteer Leader programme. When we first felt the impact of COVID-19, we quickly changed the focus of our community development projects. With strong willpower and hard work, four volunteer leaders provided important information on protection and prevention for parents and caregivers and dispelled any confusion about the virus in their communities. This was a challenging year for families in Thailand, so I am very proud to be a part of the volunteers’ journey.
Kingkanok Laksanasamrit, UNICEF Face-to-face Fundraiser
I wish to see all disadvantaged children have a better life, because I too struggled with difficulties and a lack of opportunity.
I tell our prospective donors about UNICEF’s work for children living in Thailand and around the world. And to better understand the situation of children’s education and how UNICEF is helping through support for hill tribe schools and mobile libraries at remote schools, I visited Mae Hong Son Province and spent time with schoolchildren. I hope to bring these experiences with me to be a voice for vulnerable children in my work.
During my visit, the children guided me around their schools. They told me they want to be doctors and teachers when they grow up and that their favourite subject was Thai. I loved seeing the spark in their eyes, and I could tell they were so happy to learn. They also loved to read and pour over words and pictures in books. I remember a sweet moment shared between two sisters, when one of them excitedly brought a book from UNICEF’s Mobile Library for the older one to read aloud.
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