Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Children in O’Smach working as laborers hauling wood logs

8 to 12-year old young children in O'Smach area can be seen hauling wood logs to sell at sawmills (Photo: Samroang, Koh Santepheap newspaper)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Koh Santepheap newspaper
Translated from Khmer by Socheata

Oddar Meanchey – In a trade which is now considered as normal, 60% of the old people and young children living in the O’Smach area are logging trees along the Dangrek mountain chain to harvest precious woods to sell to sawmills to earn about 150 to 250 Thai Bath (~$4.40 to $7.25) per day. What is remarkable in this trade is the fact that young boys and girls aged between 8 to 12-year-old are found working as laborers, some of these children are following their parents who are logging trees in the mountain, while others are working as hauling laborers. The precious woods collected from the mountain are cut into logs measuring 0.8 to 1-meter long. Another remarkable fact is that these logs have to be hauled from the Drangrek mountain located between 6 to 8 kilometers from the sawmills.

According to information provided by the children to Koh Santepheap, the majority of them are not attending school, not from the lack of schools, but because they believe that even if they don’t go to school, they can still earn a living for themselves and for their families. Some of them will grow up to become farmers, and some will leave to go to work as laborers in Thailand or find some work in Cambodia. These children’s views stem from the fact that they currently live in poverty.

Each day, in the O’Smach area, located next to the Cambodia-Thailand border, several boys and girls are seen not paying much attention to schools at all, they rather think about going to the forest to earn some money by hauling wood logs. Some of the children can only haul one log, while others can haul up to two. They all have to haul the logs between 6 to 8 kilometers from the Dangrek mountain.

A 12-year-old third grade schoolboy living in Chamcar Chek village, O’Smach commune, Samroang district, said that his group consists of 8 to 10 children who are hauling logs out of the forest to the sawmills. He told Koh Santepheap that he rarely attends school, on occasion, he would attend class only one or two days a week. Beyond that, he is busy with hauling logs to earn money to help his poor family. The young boy said that his father left to find work in Thailand, and that, as the oldest child in his family who can help his mother and younger siblings, he has to haul logs. Each day, he can only make one trip which earns him between 200 to 250 Thai Bath per wood log, depending on the size of the log. Some days, he could also haul up to two logs. His working day starts very early in the morning, and he does not return home until 2 or 3 PM.

Based on our observations, young boys and girls in the O’Smach commune are working as log hauler beyond their strength ability and they are forced to do so in order to help their poor families.


Anonymous said...

It's a heart breaking to have to decide between food and school. The government leaders are busy lining up their pockets.

Anonymous said...

Under Ah Kwak Hun Sen's ruling, Khmer will suffer more and more.