Thiera (invented name to protect the privacy of the child) is 13 years old and was born in the province of Kompong Thom, in central Cambodia. He is the last child of seven siblings from a very poor family and suffers from a severe form of kyphosis.
Thiera is a guy who has had a very difficult life. Immediately after his birth, his father was arrested and sent to prison for abusing a daughter.
Given the very critical financial situation, the mother remarried another man, with the hope of helping the family financially, who moved to the countryside to make a living from agriculture.
Thiera and one of his brothers – who, like him, had a disability – began to suffer from a lack of food, health care and education. The family’s financial situation did not improve and this began to generate tension. Thiera and his brother, in the eyes of the stepfather, represented a problem as, due to their disability, they could not help their mother, especially in carrying heavy loads.
The stepfather then decided to sell Thiera and his brother to traffickers in exchange for money and the boys were forced to migrate to Thailand only to be forced to beg on the street.
Once they illegally crossed the border, the two brothers were separated and Thiera was sent to Bangkok.
In Thailand, Thiera worked hard. Forced to ask for money every day at the gates of the markets, to make his begging business more profitable, the trafficker forced him to beg by taking off his shirt to expose his back affected by kyphosis. Thiera had to beg every day in a different market: his goal was to earn 3,000 baht (about 90 dollars) a day. When he could not reach him, he was severely punished and beaten. All the money Thiera collected was taken by the traffickers, even when the daily goal was exceeded. Fortunately, the passersby did not only give Thiera money, but also food and drink, and this allowed him at least to feed himself adequately.
One day, while Thiera was at the market begging for alms, a woman started talking to him and offered him a doll. Thiera soon realized that this was a “trap” of the Thai police. When the trafficker called Thiera back to escape the police it was already too late and the boy was now safe.
Thiera was arrested and taken to the police station for questioning and, after telling his story, he was sent to the Ban Phum Vet center, where the Thai police take children who come illegally from other countries.
“It was not the first time that I was arrested by the police – says Thiera – the brother of the trafficker had some connections and every time he managed to get me free and then make me go back to beg. That time was different because the brother was unable to negotiate my release with the policeman ”.
Thiera stayed in the center for six months and was heard by the court of justice three times during his stay. Thiera said that living in the center was not bad because the educators taught him the Thai language and crafts.
Later, he was sent back to Cambodia via Poipet. It was at the Poipet Transit Center that he was interviewed by Damnok Toek’s social workers who, recognizing him as a victim of child trafficking, took him to the Damnok Toek reception center, also supported by Mani Tese.
At first Thiera was very afraid of being sent to another place he did not know, but Damnok Toek’s social worker reassured him, explaining that the reception center was a place created especially for children like him. There, he would have the opportunity to receive three meals a day and basic education and to participate in various recreational activities.
Thiera was also explained that the center would be a temporary place of residence for him and that Damnok Toek’s staff would work hard to find the most suitable solution for him, giving priority to his family reintegration.
Two months have passed since his arrival at the center and Thiera is now better, she has made friends and plays with the other children of the center. He is learning to write and really enjoys participating in craft activities.
Thiera still does not have a clear idea of his future, but she would like to return to live with her mother and brothers.