For over 5 years, Lahoo has been advocating to end violence against children in Thailand. Having experienced neglect as a child, he strives to ensure vulnerable children can enjoy full lives where their rights are upheld. He has participated in various forums to raise awareness and has designed posters with his friends to share online and on billboards. As a youth representative and now 21 years old, Lahoo continues to be a Global Changemaker, meeting with government agencies to present guidelines for ending violence against children and finding hope that his policies might one day be implemented.
Q&A with Lahoo
lightly edited and condensed for clarity
What is your favourite food to eat?
Local food that is Steamed Fish Curry or in Thai called Hor Mok Pla. It's a local food that my parents cook and cannot buy it in the city.
What is your favourite thing to do for fun?
I love playing volleyball because it gives me exercise and keeps my body healthy.
Who is your favourite actor/singer/dancer/influencer?
Kimberly Hill, United States women's national volleyball player. She has the skills and aptitude for volleyball and brings her aptitude to teach and coach kids at the USA national team camp. Another important thing that I like about her is her attitude that she is willing to retire and help to develop a new generation of youngsters to take her place in the national team.
What is your favourite memory from your childhood?
My favourite childhood memory is the help of the whole family. Since in childhood we did not have our own home, we had to live at my uncle's house, and the house became damaged. Then, my family spent the holidays working part-time and saving for years to build a house where everyone could live together.
What would you tell a future Changemaker?
You are the voice of the people, and it has made a lot of changes for other people. You are the cause of equity and equality for everyone in society and a better life for them.
What is the issue you advocate on and what made you decide to take on this issue?
The issue of violence against children, focusing on neglect. The reason for deciding to resolve this issue is that it is something that is very close to us and can happen at any time to anyone. I was in this situation and environment in my family when I was a child that everyone sees as normal in the local context. At that time, I was not helped and allowed to be neglected. Therefore, I think that the family institution is the most important institution that should take care, promote and develop the potential of the child to grow up to be a quality adult and should not be neglected in the family. In addition, the family should be aware of neglect and care for children. If the family is not a good role model for children, they will imitate the bad things and pass on the actions that are not good.
The family institution is the closest institution to children. If violence and neglect of children in the family are allowed to occur, it will affect the lives of the children and their development. I believe that if everyone is aware of this, it can reduce the problem to some extent.
Block Neglect, Break Violence.
We all deserve care, protection, equity and equality. Neglect should not happen to anyone.
What difference would you like leaders to make to create real change on the issue you advocate on?
I think leaders should encourage people to be aware of all forms of violence, especially neglect. I think that at least it will cause a change in a better direction, that is, start changing ourselves first, then the family. The community that we live in will also change, and the society will be liveable.
What would you say to leaders if you had the chance to talk to them directly?
I want to talk about neglect which should not happen to all children. Leaders and people in society should give equal rights to everyone, especially vulnerable children. The government should give them the same opportunities and rights as everyone else in terms of education, health, environment and so on. Including the right to access services necessary for the daily life of children so that they will have a better quality of life.
What is something you hope to accomplish in 1, 5, 10 years?
Having a stable career and income in order to take care of myself and my family in the future, including receiving the same rights as others.
In my advocacy work, I would like to make changes in the policy and its implementation on violence, especially the issue of neglect, so that vulnerable children have the same rights as other people and are not discriminated against. Because I believe that there are many relevant organizations that can push the policy to happen.
What is the most encouraging thing that has happened during your work with this issue?
To see the driving and changes in policy that really happened, even if it happened a little, but it is one of the encouragements that encouraged me to have the strength to continue.
What is the most fun thing that has happened during your advocacy work?
All activities related to the EVAC campaign: "Block Neglect, Break Violence."
Do you advocate alongside other children and young people, and how do they inspire you?
I have been doing a project with youth on the topic of Block Neglect, Break Violence by bringing youth to design media such as posters, campaign billboards, etc. Children and youth have brought these media to disseminate to people in the community. The result is that people in the community are more aware of the issue of violence that comes from the neglect.
Youth are interested in media design and have developed their own works to be more creative.
If you could pick one personal memory or achievement around ending violence against children, what would it be?
Being involved in bringing policy change about child neglect. It is the best memory for me.