This story of #EverydayHeroes in action comes from Vuthaya Charoenpol (Ann), who is the Country Program Director for the Friends program (Peuan Peuan) in Thailand. Friends works both in Bangkok, and on the Thai/Cambodia border at the Aranyaprathet/Poipet crossing, the scene of this particular child protection incident.
“It was late afternoon when Vuthy, who is the Peuan Peuan Aranyaprathet Manager, gave me a call. From the very excited tone in his voice I had a feeling what he was about to tell me would be another astonishing story…it actually was, and a good one…let me share it with you…
Three school children, aged 13, 7 and 6 had been abducted by a group of Cambodian ‘kidnappers’ from Sisophon, Banteay Meanchey province. The children were on their way to school. They were put in the van with another 4 children who had been abducted previously. The van was heading to the border town of Poipet. As it approached the border, a couple of the children started to cry, and really crying a lot, so the broker decided to drop these 3 children out of their vehicle, near one of the main petrol stations in Poipet.
The children then started walking toward the border and managed to cross to the Thai side, the (in)famous Rongkleau Market, where they halted in front of a 7/11 store, one where ChildSafe Tuk Tuk and moto driver members are located. One of the ChildSafe members saw these children and suspected something was wrong, so he called Peuan Peuan Aran. Vorleak and Ann from the team rapidly went to pick up the children and take them to the Peuan Peuan Aran office, for their safety and further support and referral with local authorities to take action on the ‘kidnappers’.
After the Peuan Peuan Aran team accompanied the children to the Drop-In Center, Vuthy called the local police. Moments after he hung up, undercover agents, local police and other relevant agencies rushed in. This really made Vuthy excited, “…the local police station is near our office, but I couldn’t believe how fast the response was, just right after I hung up the phone, in a blink of an eye!”
The social workers talked to the children and got in touch with their mother and grandmother who were really worried about them. As they hadn’t returned home after school they actually contacted police in their town who had informed the ABC radio station to put an announcement out looking for news of these children.
Now the children are well protected and safe, many thanks to rapid and strong collaboration among locals, NGOs and authorities from both sides. The children were re-united with their family in Sisophon in the evening of 27th May.
Thank you to our amazing ChildSafe members, you are our #EverydayHeroes! This is also another example of what we all can do if we look out for children at risk… no matter what job you have, no matter where you are, you too can be one of those #EverydayHeroes…together, protecting children!”