Looking across the river towards a better future

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A pilot project for migrant children in Mae Sot is giving them greater access to Thai schools and employment opportunities

Crossing the Thailand-Myanmar border in daylight can be an anxious experience for undocumented migrants. But 13-year-old Karen girl Tata isn’t afraid. She believes the Thai school uniform she wears shields her from the suspicion of police and immigration authorities. At 6.30am on weekdays, she crosses the Moei River — a natural border between Thailand and Myanmar — from Karen state to Mae Sot district by boat. Some days, if the water level is low enough, she can walk across. She then travels on foot another kilometre to Ban Tha-aad School to join her classmates in the singing of the national anthem and raising of the Thai flag at 8am. Her parents are divorced and Tata lives with her grandparents who moved from the interior of the state to avoid decades of fighting between the Myanmar government and ethnic groups which have displaced over a million people.

“Crossing the border is my opportunity,” she told Spectrum.

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