On Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 February, The Queen visited Thailand to speak about children's rights issues at the Academic Conference for the Lay Judges from the Juvenile and Family Courts of Thailand, and to visit projects that the World Childhood Foundation supports in the country.
Wednesday 7 February
On the Wednesday, The Queen visited a school in Bangkok to find out about various projects that the World Childhood Foundation supports. Thailand's Princess Soamsawali also took part in the visit.
The school is in one of the areas where Friends International works. Friends International Thailand works with vulnerable children and young people, and is one of the partners with which the World Childhood Foundation has worked for the longest. The Queen heard about Friends International's work in Aranyaprathet and Poipet on the border between Thailand and Cambodia. The target group is Cambodian children and young people who move between the two countries. Some of them live on the streets, while others work in the large market in Rongklua or are in Sa Kaeo Provincial Prison in Aranyaprathet. Friends International works to reach these children's families, and the organisation also works with social workers, the police, business owners and other key players on both sides of the border. The Queen had the opportunity to meet parents and children who have received support through the project.
The Queen also met a number Child Safe agents. These include rickshaw drivers, street vendors and hotel owners who have been trained by the Child Safe Movement. The aim is to have more eyes and ears out in society who can react quickly and raise the alarm when children risk coming to harm.
The Queen also met representatives from the One Sky organisation. The World Childhood Foundation is One Sky's biggest contributor, and supports several of the organisation's initiatives. This includes supporting vulnerable families and children by proactively looking for them in villages and ensuring that they receive help with everything from financial support, food, transport and education to therapy.
Thursday 8 February
On the Thursday, The Queen travelled to Udon Thani to attend the Academic Conference for the Lay Judges from the Juvenile and Family Courts of Thailand. The Queen was invited by the Supreme Court of Thailand to speak to the lay judges about children's rights issues.
The Queen gave a speech, in which she said: "I carry with me a quote by a young girl I met many years ago at the second World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Yokohama.
"'Your Majesty', the little girl said, bravely stepping forward to greet me. 'Thank you for giving us a voice.'
"Her words stay with me to this day. To me, giving this girl a voice means recognizing her and the millions of children who, like her, are victims of child sexual abuse. Too often, still, this horrific crime is surrounded by taboos. It is silenced and remains invisible. As adults we must all dare to see it and dare to speak up. Because breaking the silence is the first and necessary step towards making a positive change.
"Ladies and gentlemen, you all have the opportunity, and indeed the responsibility, to be a caring adult, engaging both your brain and your heart for a child who has suffered abuse. You can give that child a voice.
"Let me end here and leave you with my own conclusions:
"So, ladies and gentlemen, let us get to work!"
Read the speech in full here.
The Queen is the founder and Honorary Chair of the World Childhood Foundation. The work of the World Childhood Foundation is based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and is religiously and politically independent. The foundation has offices in Sweden, Brazil, Germany and the USA, and supports around 100 projects in 16 different countries.
Find out more about the work of the World Childhood Foundation here.