Sep 24 2011

Chiang Mai half marathon

Published by at 11:56 am under Sights & activities

Just like to draw your attention to the Chiang Mai half-marathon (well, it’s 10kms) and 5km fun walk — for the less energetic — which is taking place on November 13 to raise awareness of NGO BABSEA-CLE or Bridges Across Borders South East Asia Community Legal Education (no wonder they abbreviated it).

The organisation aims to train local law students/lawyers to provide advice to marginalised groups in northern Thailand, such as hill-tribe groups, migrant workers, people living with HIV/AIDs. It also operates across Southeast Asia, in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia as well.

It’s an excellent initiative and you can help raise their profile and presumably contribute something to their coffers by participating in the event. Time is 05:30 to 08:30 (certainly shouldn’t be too hot at that time of day) and it takes place at Sankamphaeng in the suburbs of Chiang Mai. Transport can be arranged and full details can be found at this site or you can make contact via the following Facebook page.

Ying, our Shan nanny with our daughter preparing for a Songkran outing

Ying, our Shan nanny, with our daughter preparing for a Songkran outing.

Since we don’t have any marathon photos to hand and the ed suggested we think laterally instead, here’s a photo of our nanny, who is someone who could do with such legal advice. Ying is a Burmese refugee so her existence in Chiang Mai is a constant struggle with Thai bureaucracy and the archaic and often absurd Thai legal system. Having arrived in northern Thailand on foot, fleeing the clutches of Burmese soldiers and Shan State Army recruitment officers, she gave birth to a daughter on Thai soil some 14 years ago. However being an uneducated Shan farmer and unaware of Thai legal niceties (and with certainly plenty of other problems to cope with), the birth was unfortunately not registered at the time. So despite her daughter now speaking only Thai and having only ever lived in Thailand, she is still refused Thai citizenship — as a very bright 14 year old she is officially stateless. This is a deplorable but sadly very common state of affairs.

We watched Ying cheering the Thai women’s volleyball team on TV yesterday — this despite the team representing a country that, although she has lived some 15 years in Chiang Mai, bans her from leaving the province without special written permission and forces her to sign in at the border village she first arrived in every three months. It’s not quite house arrest but certainly “provincial arrest” and an equally deplorable state of affairs.

So if you’d like to help people like Ying sort out their situations — run for it!

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