A Window into Statelessness Through a Futbol Player

Some of you, especially World Cup fans, may have watched the global news with bated breath as 12 trapped soccer players were rescued from flooded, twisted cave passages in Thailand. This crisis hit close to home, as some of the affected children were from communities very similar to those we serve. My family has visited this cave, and our team has served communities in this area for decades.

  Adul Sam-On recovering at the hospital in Chiang Rai province. | Handout/Ministry of Health/Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital/AFP

Adul Sam-On recovering at the hospital in Chiang Rai province. | Handout/Ministry of Health/Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital/AFP

Adul Sam-on, the only English speaking kid and subsequently, the soccer team’s spokesman to the world was born in the rogue and hostile Wa State (read more)

This tragic event highlighted to the world the stateless predicament Sam-on and an estimated 3.5 million other people face. The Wa State is a rogue state not recognized as a legal state by most countries. Its people have no form of identification (passports, birth certificates, identification cards) in its “parent” country, Myanmar. Statelessness places a constant challenge on people's access to their fundamental rights. 

Sam-on's lack of identification hinders him from being able to legally marry, get a job, hold a bank account, travel, own property or vote. This is the same opposition our children face as we work in these conflict regions. 

Not only do the children in our program have to overcome the hardship caused by poverty and violence, but of statelessness. This issue that may be difficult for us to personalize, profoundly impacts their communities and exacerbates deprivation. 

In many cases, our projects are a families or child’s only source of hope in these regions. 

-Marcus Young 

Marcus YoungComment