Values/Ethics Community Service Trip to the Immigration Detention Center

By Asma Urairaksa (Grade 11)

Every October, the Grade 11 Ethics class begins hosting a donation drive for the men, women, and children at the Bangkok Immigration Detention Center. Posters around the school have encouraged students, teachers, and staff to donate as many books, drawing materials, toiletries, and other useful amenities as possible. Collection boxes, placed in each building, were later sorted through and repacked for distribution. 

The Bangkok Immigration Detention Center is the last stop for non-Thais awaiting deportation back to their home countries after completing prison sentences or paying court-imposed fines. The people brought into the Immigration Center aren’t necessarily perceived as criminals. They may be refugees who originally fled to Thailand to escape the harsh conditions in their own countries, or they may have overstayed their visa—or not had one at all—and are therefore detained at the center “until further notice.” 

Earlier this year, six RIS students visited the Bangkok Immigration Detention Center with Mr. Oliver to distribute the items that had been collected: almost 200 packages for men, 150 for women, and 60 for children, including individual toiletries. Unlike previous years, the students weren’t allowed to hand out the items themselves because of a high-profile case that imposed restrictions. Instead, the donations were delivered to the staff at the center.

At present, no social services or education programs are available to the detainees. They have a lot of idle time on their hands and boredom is rife. Our ultimate goal was to bring them a little hope, lift their spirits, and restore a bit of their dignity and pride.