People think child labor is a practice of the past, but children continue to work and are forced to perform menial jobs in dangerous conditions. However, there are cases like mine in which children willingly work to help support their families. At the age of 13, I excitedly travelled to Bangkok during my summer break to work so I could make money for my school supplies and give money to my father, who was almost 70, had bad health, was a widower, and raised me and my five older siblings on his own.
At that time, I didn’t know the term “child labor.” No one in my family or in my village knew this word. From early ages, all of us worked on our farms, and we worked hard, so no one thought it was wrong for children to toil day in and day out. Our approach to work was: if you don’t work, you cannot have a good life. We were more concerned with surviving and providing for our families, and often this meant going to the city and sending money home.
As a child, I was raised to be nice, kind, strong, persevere, work hard, be brave and never forget to take care of my father. That’s why I was willing to sacrifice my childhood.
This book is dedicated to my father Sum Khot-asa, my mother Som Khot-asa, and our best friend Duen Janpen Kham-pha, and Hia Kuang, the kindest boss.