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Phuket News: Kidnapped Karen girl ‘Air’ being treated but funds running out - Chiang Mai expatriate visits her at children's home

CHIANG MAI: In early 2013 ‘Air,’ the young girl from the Karen hill tribe who was kidnapped by a Thai couple on 20 May 2008, managed to escape from her abusers.

By CityNews Chiang Mai

Friday 26 April 2013, 02:31PM

Derrick Titmus with Air and other girls at Chrildren's Home.

Derrick Titmus with Air and other girls at Chrildren's Home.

After five years of continuous torture and enslavement, the 12-year-old girl finally succeeded in fleeing, and her neighbours took her to the police shortly after. 

Badly burned and scarred from the years of torture, Air was taken to the Kamphaeng Phet Child and Family Emergency Home where she began receiving treatment, paid for by the Thai and Burmese governments. 

Now, only two months later, it seems there is not enough money to continue the treatment and surgeries Air so badly needs.

Derrick Titmus, a concerned Chiang Mai expatriate, was deeply affected when he heard the news about what Air had been through and felt compelled to do something about it. After finding out the contact information of the care home where she was staying he decided to take her some gifts.

“I did not expect to be allowed to see Air, but on arriving at the care home I was asked to stay a while and meet her and four other mistreated girls at the home.”

After Titmus visited Air at the care home, he wanted to continue visiting her at the hospital in Bangkok where she would be treated for her burns.

But due to the kidnappers’ relation to “influential” individuals, the hospital discouraged visitors to see Air, out of fear that the couple might send others to try to harm her even more.

“That was okay by me, but they then said that they did not have enough money for her operations and proceeded to give me a bank account number where money could be sent to help her,” Titmus said.

Titmus was advised against sending money, since both the Thai and Burmese governments had confirmed they would be helping pay for Air’s treatment.

“I then proceeded to write letters,” Titmus said. “I wrote to the Royal Thai Household, the Thai Prime Minister, the Burmese Consulate and the editors of the Bangkok Post and Nation newspapers to try and find out if it was true that there was not enough money to pay for her treatment.

“I only received one reply and that was from the Prime Minister’s office. They gave me the name of a trust fund where money could be sent to help Air in the future, but there was no real answer to my question regarding the cost of her treatment at the hospital,” Titmus said.

Since the story about Air’s five years of physical abuse came out in February, news and media outlets quickly showcased her scars to the world.

Air was often shown wearing only underpants, so that the public could see the extensive damage that had been done to her body.

While doing so circulated a high amount of attention and sympathy, officials have warned against the use of such images, as Air is still a child and it would therefore be a violation of her human rights to exploit the image of her body.

But after so much initial attention and being catapulted into the media, what will become of Air if she is unable to continue her treatments?

Like many others, Titmus is plagued by the question, who will be paying for Air’s care? Were the Thai and Burmese governments ever planning on actually providing financial assistance, or was it just a publicity ploy to look good as the story came out?

Read the original story here.



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