Investigation of the Exploitation of Akha Children

Asia » Thailand » North-West Thailand » Chiang Rai
January 25th 2007
Published: January 25th 2007
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I know that it has been a while, but our site was down for a few days. This is what we've been up to since you heard from us last. As some of you may be aware, we have been in contact with a human rights activist who has worked in Thailand with the indigenous Akha people. He has recently been deported, but asked us to check up on a place called the Akha Training Center (ATC), a place that takes... Read Full Entry

Photos are below
Photos: 32, Displayed: 21


children cooking breakfastchildren cooking breakfast
children cooking breakfast

cooking breakfast and lunch for over 500 children, at 5:30 in the morning
children cooking breakfast 2children cooking breakfast 2
children cooking breakfast 2

cooking breakfast and lunch for over 500 children, at 5:30 in the morning
children eating breakfastchildren eating breakfast
children eating breakfast

breakfast this morning was rice, with some cloudy liquid that looked like powdered milk on top of it.

giving oli the peace sign
children stuccoing the wallschildren stuccoing the walls
children stuccoing the walls

5:30 am, no adults in sight, and it was completely dark. oliver had to use the flash to see what was going on.
children workingchildren working
children working

again: 5:30 am, no adults in sight, and it was completely dark. these children are making wire bases for the wicker chairs they make.
children grinding standchildren grinding stand
children grinding stand

again: 5:30 am, no adults in sight, and it was completely dark. the child is grinding a metal stand for their work shop. He has a club foot
children grinding stand 2children grinding stand 2
children grinding stand 2

again: 5:30 am, no adults in sight, and it was completely dark. the child is grinding a metal stand for their work shop. He has a club foot, which you can see easier here

this picture is for you sarah. this is Suporn and Boumee, two friends I made while I was there, wearing some of the necklaces we made.

26th January 2007

Bring them home, and they can sleep in, go to school and run in the woods with the goats and sheep!!!! So sad, I wonder what Christ would do if he visited this place!!!!!!!!!!!! A teacher of real love, and peace, he would not tolerate this - it makes me so sad that with all our 'advances' as humans we still sorely lack basic human decency and the ability to treat each person, especially our children and elders with respect and dignity. MOM
26th January 2007

I could go off here...I've alway sensed there was untruth to many commercials of this sort and am not surprised (never sent money and you know how I like to help people); disappointed and think an inquiry would be in order to say the least. Will be looking forward to hearing that outcome. On a humorous note, I'll take 5 to replace the 3 I have(or is it 4). I'm busy with more patients, had an aspergers kid and treatment is successful/able to function in social setting now. I wonder if they have add/adhd/aspergers/autism over there? and if not why? and if they do what do they do? check out their med child care if it's possible. Oh what a delight it is to keep up with your your mom not forget to tell us all when you get back but we can do that too! We miss your cute faces...many hugs for you two...xoxo...i love you, M
27th January 2007

Good work!
Excellent photos and quite a story....sad and troubling. it would be interesting to know more about the backgrounds of the children, I think. Keep up the good work in telling your experiences and the stories of others. Thanks!
29th January 2007

Good work!
Guys this is fantastic work in terms of reporting this and getting it out there. I worked at CGT for a week and it was a nightmare. It is barbaric and wrong and deceiptful to people donating money. But especially to the children. If you would like to stay in touch about this or chat more, my email is, and could you please send this to Rotary International media relations officer to see if they can't do something? I also thought Amnesty International might be able to help? All the best - Julie-Anne in Australia
30th January 2007

Dorien never met you but from the respect I hear coming form Oliver your strength and character is told true. What you and my dear friend experienced was as so many have said a good works. Yet when I see the pictures and truly look into the children's eyes I dont see suffering in a way Ive seen in children here. The souls you encountered are stronger than the likes of us. To sit and be able to hear their opinions would be a gift in itself. I know it tore olivers heart as well. You two helped. It is a start. It seems as though the children dont know any different, so they accept their lot and see it as normal. Not right but normal for them. Take comfort in knowing you are not alone in fixing the lie, in fact you are probably step four. Write your article, you focus thought beautifully. Passion should never be underestimated. Remember their friendships because those relationships have taught them more then all the loss and pain. Thank you both for bringing them a smile or two. Safe travels. michelle
30th January 2007

not so much suffering
i agree that the children aren't suffering like they are in other places, they are happier with their lot in life than many and the happiness and joy that they express is probably what makes the volunteers feel OK about what they are doing. I have seen happier children with worms living in huts on the amazon than in the streets of america. the problem here, though, is that the owners of the place are getting money to give these children many things that they are not giving them, pocketing the money instead. oliver and i went to another similar place, where the chidren had good food, clean clothes, and were given ID cards for thailand so that they could get advanced schooling and/or get a job. perhaps the greater evil is not that the children are miserable, but that they have been taken away from their families to make money for westerners using money people donated for charity. hey, oliver told me you just got a new house. congratulations!
30th January 2007

You are sooo right what that man is is a crook. Those children deserve the world not the floor. They are so beautiful. Thank you both for taking the time for them. Be careful but continue to open peoples eyes. You have a lot of support. He needs to live as they live. ps And thanx for the congrats. We love it here. Take care of each other.~m
13th February 2007

Hi, I'm just a random browser. I read your blog and, particularly as I live near Chiang Rai, I was very moved by what you wrote. I posted a link to your blog on a Thailand Forum I read regularly. I hope more people become aware of such "charities" and how they exploit their situation. Perhaps publicising such abuses will make it more difficult for such people to continue. Every day I see "missionaries" driving around in their expensive cars while the people they are supposed to care for have almost nothing, it's an awful thing.
14th February 2007

some good points
You have a lot of good points, and I think that the success of what is going on there is in its subtelty. david and asa live decently, but they don't live like kings. the children work, but they aren't being beaten or starved. the children themselves are, in their own way, happy. but what is going on in the center is made worse by looking at other places in the region. i was at first worried that i was judging the place by american standards, not thai standards, and i'm the first to say kids dont need a roomful of toys to be well treated. but my brother and I also went to another place, the camillion social center, that takes in hill tribe children just north of Chiang Rai, and that illustrated better than anything the problems with the akha training center. at the camillion center, the children came in when they were old enough for school, and after their primary schooling had the option of going onto secondary schooling or for technical training. most of the kids had ID cards. they helped with chores, but there was always adult supervision and adult staff to look after the kids. there were less than 200 children, with way more staff, and the kids went home on holidays to see their families. At the Akha training center, kids were brought in at all ages, well before school and kept there even after their primary schooling. the older kids only went to school one day a week and basically ran the center the rest of the time. and some children as older than 10 who were deamed 'not ready' for school didn't go at all (though one volunteer mentioned some order from the government saying all of the kids over 10 would have to start going to school, so that is about to change). they didn't have ID cards, because it was 'near impossible' to get them, even though the other boarding school was able to. one of the volunteers told me that the kids were getting job training, but then said they might not be able to use them because most of the kids didn't have ID cards so were just going to go back to their villages anyway. I admit that I don't know the whole situation, where the kids come from, when they leave, how the money comes in, but the suspicious part of it all is that no one knew. not a single person was able to tell me. this allows for a fair bit of speculation, even hyperbolic speculation (which the best of us are guilty of from time to time). david and asa are able to make a decent living by packing in as many children as possible, and not hiring any staff, but keeping the older children on to raise the younger children, build/upkeep the facilities and so forth. this is odious in its self, but becomes all the more so because the money could be spent to help the villages so that the children, who are so very desperate for the slightest attention when you go there, can grow up with their families and in their own culture. instead of helping the villages and preserving their culture, they are using the charity to destroy it, something david, amazingly enough, admits to openly (he said the akha culture was sick and needed to be destroyed). these people are able to make a comfortable living, have children who cook and clean up after them and run a fair bit of the business, are helping to destroy a people and culture already beset on all sides, and they do so in the name of christianizing and charity. yes, it could be a lot worse. but it could also be a lot better, and i have to wonder if some of the international doners saw the difference of say, the (also christian) Camillion social center, and the Akha training center, they would feel so good about what they were doing. it is unfortunatly much harder to fight against the forces of westernizing indigenous cultures, because most charities are based on the premise that we can help people by making them more like us.
24th February 2007

White Racist Aryan Missionaries Take Brown Children For Jesus and BIG BUCK$
I'd like to weigh in on the comment of the person that said that Dorien and Oliver don't know what is going on? That some how ripping these kids off from their villages with no history, no documentation, no oversight OR AUTHORIZATION of asigned authorities was needed to do that is not something that would ever be tolerated in the west. It is a commentary that tries to escape goldie locks trekker see no evil. The missions are making themselves fabulously wealthy off Akha kids, and it doesn't matter how much it costs, how many meals they feed it is wrong wrong wrong, and in the end when the kids leave, they, the good, do no evil missionary, KEEPS ALL THE ASSETS. Missionaries are lying cheating people who really suck and they are also magnificent white aryan racists. Taking brown children. Charity. Give me a break.
21st March 2007

I can't believe this!
Dorien, I was one of the volunteers at the Training Center. I can't believe you! I am so hurt that you would use our comments or the things you saw and twist them around into lies! Yes, It's true, the kids did have cabbabe, broth and things like that for food, but THEY DID NOT WANT OUR FOOD! I had tried multiple times (Before you ever set foot in the place), to give them my food, THEY DID NOT WANT IT! We gave the children blankets to sleep on, and mats, but some simply did not want them. You exploited these children you hypocrite! I am so hurt by these half-truths twisted into lies. The reason these children work so hard is so they will have skills to maintain a life in the villages so they will have the won't have the chance to become prostitutes! Wow, that would be SO much better for these children wouldn't it? And as for the lie for these kids being abducted is bull! If they wanted to go home and stay there, they would have plenty of oppurtunities. When my group stayed there (which was two months, hmmm, a little longer than just two days), we visited the villages of the children. They could have stayed there if they wanted to! We brought them with us! Instead, they wanted to come back to the center. Not because of David, but on their own free will. I can't believe you would twist those things and lie about it Dorien. I trusted you. I wondered why you just up and left like that. I know you probably won't care about any of my opinions, just the ones that you can twist to give missionaries a bad name and make people think you know what you're talking about just because you spent one WHOLE day there.

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