Greg interviews Ilya Smirnoff, the director of Childline Thailand, an NGO dedicated to the rights of children in Thailand. Ilya begins by explaining his early life as a monk, and how he eventually left the monkhood and began doing charity work. The basic genesis of Childline Thailand was to provide a single phone number for children to call to gain access to information about all the government services that are designed to help children in trouble. The organization was able to get the simple phone number ‘1387,’ which is still their number today. Ilya notes that there are actually an array of services of great variety, but that a single access point makes it much easier for children to navigate the system. Greg then asks Ilya to walk him through an example call, where a child who has run away from home calls in. Ilya says the first step is to assess whether the child is in immediate danger; if so, Childline will immediately call the police so that they can intervene and hopefully render assistance. If a child seems to have a skillset that perhaps allows them to live for a while on their own, Childline will do a further assessment to determine the appropriate services for that child. The fact that up to 70% of Thai children have a grandparent as their primary caregiver, and the difficulties that can bring, exacerbates the situation, making their biological parents harder to track and them perhaps more willing to run away. The generation gap between grandparents and children is often vast and a communication breakdown often makes violence more likely. Greg and Ilya continue to discuss the emotional difficulties of the job, its great rewards, and complexities of navigating the various services available in Thailand. Stay tuned for Part 2 of the interview next week. Don’t forget that Patrons get the ad-free version of the show as well as swag and other perks. And we’ll keep our Facebook, Twitter, and LINE accounts active so you can send us comments, questions, or whatever you want to share.
Childline Thailand: Tackling Abuse & Neglect, Offering Hope & Safety [S6.E68]