As many of you know, through my work with homeless, abused and traffickerd children I am on the Board of Childline Thailand. I do this through my Bill Crews Charitable Trust, of which I am the founder and CEO.
Last Friday night my friend Ilya Smirnoff, CEO of Childline Thailand and I went for a walk amongst the slums and squatters areas of Bangkok. Eventually he led me to under a tollway and to walk along a railway line which snaked towards the port. All along the Railway line, within inches of the railway carriages which would pass by were huts, shacks, also tin and corrugated iron coverings under which were shops, laundromats, beauty shops, hairdressers; the makings of a whole economy.
We could see inside many of the buildings where hair was being done and the crates and crates of soft drink and goods for sale. As we walked along the line I could not believe how lucky I was to see this and be part of it. What I notice about this and other similar communities is the sense of connection everyone has with each other. People there feel part of something we in the west have lost to our detriment. There is a community here.
That’s not to say its all good though. As there were many kids playing, many on the railway track itself, I thought of all the toys we had and Ilya suggested that we set up a toy library so that we can keep an eye on the kids as they come to swap the toys.
Many of them contact Childline when they’re in trouble and he says we need to make sure they know where they can call. This is where we could also help by supplying old replaced mobile phones to these community members as mobile phones are really expensive here. The children ring for help because they usually want their parents to stop beating them or stop drinking.
We walked for miles and miles. My shoes got quite worn, out cut up by the rocks and the sleepers but I really enjoyed it. At the end we emerged into the crowded street markets of the Bangkok most people know.