An Afternoon Break, Accompanied By Thoughts

Light dawned in my eyes. Ramadan, and outreach in a heavily-militarised terrain.

Remembering sahur, a pre-dawn meal, and of a tin pot of dark local coffee... that prominent bittersweet flavour. I now sit on a wooden bench, opposite of the elevated pondok. Stained fingers on the keyboard. Typing away, just to share some thoughts before the next focus group discussion.

Most countries in the region are concerned about living standards for the rural population, or at the very least according to political doctrine, claim to be. Yet at this point, I don't see honesty from institutions nor a positive deviation from the cycle of failed tokenism.

Security ThaiSouth

How many NGOs and government agencies take any measures to find out from young people themselves what policy works and whether marginalized youths are part of a democratic decision-making process.

Young people living and working in rural places are often vulnerable due to the absence of rights, while institutions and civil society at times take them for granted. Its this assumption, and stereotype, that poor youths and children are treated as unsuitable, uneducated and cannot participate in nation-building, much less self-determination.

And its common to find privileged youths, particularly those who view themselves as part of the middle and upper class, expressing themselves in sponsored-forums; though how many really understand marginalization, and how many champion the rights of their 'peers' from poor families. As it is, young people have expressed the urgency to be part of the solution in the decade-old ThaiSouth conflict. Will the older generation allow them, empower them?

I sit, mesmerized by the simplicity of the afternoon. Sungai Padi is a beautiful place to be, minus the sentry guards, the exhibited weaponry, and the unspoken threats of militancy. The roads connect unflustered villages and small towns, with a backdrop of thick jungle and isolated plantations. The old-fashioned charm, although I sincerely doubt this will last long. When you least expect in, change has a habit of creeping up on you.

South Thailand

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