Migrant families waiting patiently for the tough times to end

Before lockdown, the family’s daily income was 600 baht, but this has now shrunk by half

Sirinya Wattanasukchai
A family of four.
UNICEF Thailand/2020/Sirinya Wattanasukchai
05 June 2020

Hassadong Wanthong is a 27-year-old migrant worker from Laos living in the Suea Yai community. Married to a 28-year-old migrant, also from Laos, Hassadong has been raising two children in Bangkok, while her eldest child, aged 8, is being brought up by grandparents in Laos.

Hassadong worked selling drinks at a shop in the Bangkok University. Her young baby, born in Bangkok three months ago, is not eligible for the government’s 600-baht per month Child Support Grant because the parents are not Thai, although both have been contributing to Thailand’s economy for over a decade.

The outside of the houses with a narrow path way.
UNICEF Thailand/2020/Sirinya Wattanasukchai

Before lockdown, the family’s daily income was 600 baht, but this has now shrunk by half because Hassadong’s shop is closed. This barely covers rent, food and education. Hassadong’s three-year-old child cannot drink milk every day because Hassadong does not have enough money to buy even a small carton. Fortunately, her new baby is still breastfeeding.

“We’ve no other choice but to wait,” Hassadong said. Unfortunately, she and her husband couldn’t go home after the border had been closed or apply for the 5,000-baht handout because of their migration status although both of them have also been affected by the lockdown measure.

A child is sleeping soundly on the bed.
UNICEF Thailand/2020/Sirinya Wattanasukchai

She said her children would be in good hands at the child care centre when she goes back to work, once the city reopens. That means their income will go back to how it was and their children will have proper meals and education again.

“I’m not scared of the virus,” Hassadong said. “But I’m afraid my children won’t have enough to eat.”