Charee, or ‘Not’, is 20 years old. She graduated from high school in 2015. She always wanted to continue her studies after high school, but didn’t think that she would be able to apply for a scholarship. Her plan was to try to work to save enough money to see her through university, however after two years of work she has realized that this would not be possible, and as such applyed to Kwah Dao for help.
Not currently lives with her mother, step-dad and granny. Her parents came to Thailand over 20 years ago looking for work, but split up when she was about 12 years old. She has one older brother, who completed just three years of primary education, and lives with his wife and child.
After her parents split up Not lived alone with her mother, who worked hard to support Not through high school. She says that her father hardly gave them any money, and after a few years he remarried and had two more children, at which point he was unable to help at all and had very little time for her.
Her mother also remarried, however Not does not get on well with her step-father and barely speaks to him. She says that he is very tight with money and doesn’t treat her mother well. Not is devoted to her mother and wishes that her family could be together again, although she knows it is not possible.
After she graduated from high school, Not went to work at the same place as her brother, with her plan to save money to study in the future. She worked 12 hours a day for 8000 Baht/month (below the minimum wage), with two days off per month.
They only had one motorbike, and her mother would take her to work and pick her up every day, so she bought a motorbike on credit.
Then the owner of the land they lived on wanted to use the land, so they had to build a new house on another bit of land. Not gave all the money she had saved to her mum for the new house. She realized that she would never be able to save up the money she needed for further education with the limited opportunities she had, as the amount she earned was just enough to survive.
Her mother’s health is not good – she is currently not working following an operation – and her step-dad works ‘sometimes’. She says that she often cries at night thinking about her life and how, despite working so hard, she can see no way to make anything better.
Not is hoping to major in Tourism at Rajabhat University in Mae Hong Son. She has chosen Tourism because she believes that it will give her the best opportunity to find work following graduation. The local economy in Pai, and Thailand in general, is dependent upon tourists and there is a proliferation of formal and informal work in the sector. She wants to learn languages (English and/or Chinese) as part of her degree, as with these skills she is far more likely to find better-paid, less unpleasant work and will have more choices.
After graduating she hopes to return to Pai to find work, and to be able to take care of her mother.