Friday, June 8, 2012

Forced Child Labor

Christopher has long been asking for chores that he can do to earn some money to supplement his weekly allowance.  Since we have a gardener as well as a maid who works daily and does all of the cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc., there really are no (meaningful) chores for Christopher to do around the house or in the yard. Caitlynne has a steady stream of income from her babysitting jobs but it has been difficult to find something that Christopher could do that would help him earn some money.

Last week, the father of a good friend of Christopher's asked us if Christopher would be interested in working in a Thai fish hatchery for a week.  This farm hatches fingerlings (baby fish) to be supplied to the Thai fish farming industry. The fish are grown out, sold to distributors, grocery stores, etc. before eventually ending up on our dinner plates and in our tummies.  The hatchery was founded in 1994 and now produces up to 20 million 1" high quality monosex tilapia fry each month.  The farm is a good sized operation and covers an area of 64 hectares and with 140 staff employed.

On Monday, I will drive Christopher and his friend Kevin to the farm which is about 90 kilometers East of Bangkok.  They will work to feed the fish, move nets, clean nets and "other duties as assigned".  University students from Mexico, France and Thailand will also be there working and doing research.  It will be a great learning experience for him and he will be with one of his very good friends so it should be fun for him too.  Things are just so different here (particularly as far as safety measures and sanitary conditions are concerned) and there are so many unknowns (where he will sleep, what he will eat, etc.) and I know that I will worry the entire time he is gone.  I did make it clear to our friend that he is not to operate any heavy equipment.  Seriously.  For his efforts, he will be paid 250 Baht per day (less than $9.00 USD) which is the minimum wage in Thailand. I do not know how long the work day is but it certainly won't be an "eight and skate" for him.

Last year at this time, he was preparing to spend a week in Chevy Chase, Maryland to attend the National Junior Youth Leadership Conference in Washington, DC. This year, we are packing a backpack (to include a mosquito net and sleeping bag) for him to spend a week literally immersed in fish.  I should mention that Christopher does not seem too enthusiastic about "fish camp" (as we are calling it).

I had coffee this morning with a group of friends and heard the sad news that another dog was bitten in its yard by a cobra and died yesterday.  This happened in a neighborhood that is about one mile away from ours. Like Simpson, the dog killed the cobra so at least the family knows exactly what happened and there is one less cobra to worry about.

Today is the last day of school!  I am just waiting for the kids to get home and then I am taking Caitlynne and a few of her friends downtown to the mall for the afternoon. Christopher and I will have lunch together and take a look in the bookstore while the girls shop.

Have a great Friday!

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