Saphan Siang Youth Ambassador Programme
The Saphan Siang (Bridge of Voices) campaign promotes better understanding between Thais and migrant workers by increasing public awareness on the issues faced by migrant workers, their positive contribution to Thailand’s economy and society, and their right to equal protection under the law and in practical access to support services. The campaign seeks to achieve this goal by creating opportunities for interaction between Thais and migrants. The campaign is supported by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), World Vision International (WVI), civil society organizations (CSOs) and academic institutions.
Studies have shown that misconceptions and negative attitudes towards migrants are prevalent in host societies around the world. These attitudes can lead to discrimination against migrants in society and in the workplace, and contribute to an environment in which social exclusion and rights abuses are tolerated. In Thailand and around the world, communication and interaction with migrant workers is a key factor in facilitating greater understanding and more supportive attitudes towards migrants. By promoting a more positive image of migrant workers through increased knowledge, awareness, and understanding, theSaphan Siang campaign works to achieve a safe and fair living and working environment for migrants in Thailand.
Introduced in December 2013, the Saphan SiangYouth Ambassador programme was built on the aspiration to engage more young people to improve the public’s understanding of migrant worker issues and to promote a more positive image of migrant workers. Through direct exposure to civil society organisations working on migration issues and interaction with migrant workers, young people can gain a better understanding of the complex realities facing migrants in Thailand. This knowledge can then be shared through the growing Saphan Siang Youth Network.
During the first round of the Saphan Siang Youth Ambassadors (March-August 2014), 12 Ambassadors were placed with 8 partner organisations and carried out different volunteer assignments in different parts of Thailand. They were able to contribute to the mandate of their organisation, promote the Saphan Siangcampaign and gain professional development skills. To replicate this success and see further impact made to the young people, host organisations and migrant communities, and to build a strong and Saphan SiangYouth Network, the second round of the programme will be continued during February-May 2015.
Like the first round, Youth Ambassadors in round 2 will be selected and placed according to their skills, experience and interest in migrant worker issues. They will be provided with ongoing support from the campaign including a stipend to cover basic costs such as lunch and local transportation. Being part of the programme, the Youth Ambassadors will be part of the wide and growing Saphan Siang youth network in Thailand, equipped with the power to be active change makers in their universities and communities.