Migrant Fisherman Aung Soe struggles to support his wife and five children on $110 USD/month. Fourteen years ago, his family left Burma in search of better economic conditions in Thailand.
The family lives in a two-room concrete building they share with other relatives. “After paying electricity, water supply and housing, there is nothing left,” says Aung Soe. “The main problem for me now is I am in debt because every month I have to pay back and borrow again.”
Like most migrant workers, Soe works as a fisherman. He leaves around 1 p.m. but doesn’t return until they catch fish, which can sometimes take 24 hours. His employer applied for a work permit for him in July. Now, he has more rights and can travel freely.
Their 13-year-old daughter, Zin Mi Mi Soe, attends a school for Burmese migrants, where she studies Burmese, Thai and English.
Zin Mi Mi Soe’s mother, Ma May, carries her youngest son to the school bus.
Eight-year old Min Thu Soe naps on the lone mattress the family has in their home. He is mute and does not attend school. He communicates with his family through a series of hand gestures.
Two fish from the previous day's catch sit by the back door of their house. The back room consists of gaping holes and wooden boards haphazardly pieced together.
The family struggles to pay the school fees for their daughter and youngest son. Her goal is help her mother and she fears not being able to finish school.
Win Yu and Sang Yu left Burma for Thailand over 20 years ago in search of better economic conditions. Even with a work permit, they struggle to support their three children on a monthly salary of $156 USD.
Both parents both work 12-hour nightly shifts at a rubber plantation. Their salary fluctuates based on the amount of rubber produced, which is dictated by the weather.
In the morning, rubber is collected in pans and rolled into sheets by hand. The sheets are flattened by metal rolling machines, left to dry in the sun and later sold at the market
Seven-year-old Soe Myat Min, right, waits for his teacher to grade his assignment. He and his younger brother attend a school for Burmese migrants near their house.
During their school lunch break, the children walk home to eat. Lunch is only provided by the school for the nursery students. Older students must bring their own lunch.
The boys play with a toy gun in their former house, which was owned by their parent's employer. When it was rented out, they moved to a two-room concrete apartment attached to the back.
The oldest son, Myoe Oo Twen, lost three fingers while playing around machinery at the rubber plantation where his parents work. Due to financial problems, he was forced to quit school this year to work with his parents.
"If my children are unable to study, I am going to be a useless father," says Win Yu. "My kids are going to feel bad when they grow up seeing their friends who are on a higher level. And, then they are going to blame us.”
Despite their hectic work schedule, both parents try to be home with the children as much as possible.
Win Yu has a Burmese passport and a work permit, which allows him to legally work in Thailand. Despite the permit, he often isn’t paid the standard wage because he is a migrant.
“I want my sons to be educated persons like my parents wanted us but we had no choice," explains San Yu. She hopes to send them back to Burma to study in March 2014.