TAT takes Deep South kids on Phuket megatrip

PHUKET: The Tourism Authority of Thailand took 60 poor children from Thailand’s troubled Deep South provinces on a National Children’s Day trip of a lifetime to Phuket on Saturday.

The lucky youngsters were chosen from schools in Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani provinces, where an Islamic separatist insurgency continues to rage with almost daily acts of violence.

Included on the itinerary was a trip to Phuket Marine Biological Center’s aquarium, a demonstration of Royal Thai Navy fighting vessels at Phuket Deep Sea Port and a fun-packed trip to the Splash Jungle water park in Mai Khao.

The day rounded off at dusk in Rawai, where the kids watched the sun dip beneath the ocean at Phromthep Cape, Phuket’s most famous vantage point.

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The trip was part of a TAT program called “Open up the wider world to build unity in the South – Look after the young people of the South”, which TAT southern region director Porrames Amatayakul says is more than just a corporate social responsibility exercise.

Porrames said the program aimed to show the kids a side to the world they had never seen before and change their outlook. By getting the children to participate in creative activities together, the program also aimed to forge bonds between children from different parts of the South.

Children in the three southernmost provinces have it tougher than kids in other parts of the Kingdom. Insurgents carry out bombings and attacks on an almost daily basis, making parents afraid to let children play freely outdoors.

Ten-year-old Muhammad-Masukree Late, from Narathiwat, was interviewed by Kom Chad Luek while on a Children’s Day outing to the city of Haad Yai in Songkhla province.

Muhammad said it was the first time he had left his neighborhood on a trip for Children’s Day. The high price of agricultural products, particularly rubber, meant this year his family had enough money to take him on an outing to Songkhla Zoo and Haad Yai Ice Dome.

The boy said he was really glad to be enjoying his first Children’s Day vacation. But, he said, the present that he and other children in the Deep South wanted more than anything was an end to violence.

“I want the government to fix the problem of unrest in the South to make my home free of violence,” he said, “so that people can go about their everyday life as normal like our friends in other provinces.”

Ariya Baha, 9, was also in Haad Yai for a Children’s Day outing with her family from Pattani. She said she was glad the government was putting so much focus on Children’s Day, but thought the government should put more effort into fixing problems in the Deep South.

“I want the atmosphere to go back to how mum and dad say it used to be, and I want to ask the adults who are involved with fixing the problems to make my home free of violence like other places. That’s all I ask,” she said.

— Kom Chad Luek

Phuket News
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