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[Ep.2] Wiwat Maneematcha @HRDF Mae Sot Office, Tak

Read Episode I here!

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As I mentioned in my previous blog, I’ve been involved in HRDF’s project called ‘Labour Law Clinic’ (LLC). I can say that the past two months or so have been a precious time for me. As a Saphan Siang Youth Ambassador, my role at LLC has been varied – from taking notes and drafting reports to knowledge management and field work. I have documented many stories of migrant workers who come to our center to seek help and counsel. Being part of the team, I make sure that we do our best we can so that they can benefit from our service as much as possible.

Every month there is a meeting where representatives from various organisations in the province come together. We share thoughts and exchange ideas we have for our work and help each member with problems and challenges they are facing. As per usual, I take notes, summarise them and keep record of all important discussions.

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As part of my volunteer work, I have also been able to visit migrant workers in the area – at least once a month. This is an important part as it allows me to introduce myself to the community and makes handling their legal needs more effective. I hope however that I’d be able to this more than once a month.

Perhaps another interesting work at the LLC is giving legal counsel to migrant workers as this requires firmed knowledge of the law. Cases range from exploitation in workplace to accident at work. As such, while we consider ways to help, we need to provide basic legal know-hows and let them know what rights they are entitled to. Once a case has been filed, it goes to the enforcement part. I’ve learned a great deal how this operates – it is indeed a great platform for me to educate myself as a law student.

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Over the past two months of being a Youth Ambassador, I also have the chance to help the host organisation in the registration an nationality verification process of migrant workers. Recently, I was involved in a workshop where I participated in educating Myanmar and Karen workers about such process. I have been able to assist 40 cases in which I assisted in advising necessary processes and encouraged migrant workers to be an agency of their own lives and empower their peers.

Lastly, I learned that ‘pity’ is the feeling that we need to beware of. Particularly, working in a legal field, one needs to be cautious of what one believes and actions one chooses to take. In other words, while being able to read a lot of previous legal cases, the ‘words’ are sometimes inadequate – evidence is very important.  A staff at the LLC once told me: “working in this field is like already putting one leg in prison”. That said, I hope the rest of my time with the host organisation will give me enough knowledge and practical experiences in migrant labour issues that could be of use in the future.

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