Children Of The Trains is a documentary directed and produced by Barbara Grandvoinet. It debuted in 2014 and is available on Amazon Prime.
When the film opens, we are taken on a short tour of Bangkok, where homeless families reside, along the railroad track.
The families face many crisis including; hunger, drug crimes, gangs, abuse, and much more. Each child has learned how to live in their society and have developed fairly good street and survival skills
Nattakorn is a young man that ran away from home because his parents were abusive. He admitted to living under a bridge and begging for food. He hopped the Hua Lamphoug train in route to Bangkok. There social workers will help them find residence, where they can receive three meals a day.
The Library Train is run by police volunteers. They teach the children how to read, write, and perform basic mathematics. The children speak of the Library Train and how much they love and appreciate the teachers for dedicating their time to help them better their lives and their chances for survival in Bangkok.
Many families set up housing near the Library Train, even though it is illegal to do so. The authorities normally do not interfere until one of them decides to cause a disturbance with the people in the surrounding community.
Other children that had ran away stated that they went to the big city, Bangkok, in hopes of getting a job. One young boy said he collected bottles and sold them to the recycling center. Others sold flowers and washed cars for a living, which was very difficult for them.
Very small children were sleeping on the ground, in front of businesses, in parks, and any where they could. Not all children were forced out of their homes because of abuse, some were forced to seek jobs to help feed the family.
Some of the parents were farmers and were so poor that they could not care for their children.
Ming, another young homeless child said that she loved to visit the Library Train because she could read books and play games while she was there.
Koop is another young child that we are introduced to. She admits to sleeping in empty trains at night and attending the Library during the daylight hours.
Jaran was forced out of his home because his father died and his mother was too poor to feed him. He landed in the big city and performed in line dancing. One day he hit his head very hard and was left disabled. His short term memory loss, physical disabilities, and his weakness made him a target for bullies. They beat him in the head and he had the scars to prove it. He also admitted to being locked in jail for sniffing glue. He now works at a dairy farm but the longevity of his life is unsure due to his poor health.
Pin is another young boy that was forced into homelessness because his parents were in jail.
Many of the older children are sent to dairy farms to work. Others get jobs as janitors at local establishments. They are also hired to wash and clean the trains. When the children work they are showing the world that they are responsible and can take care of themselves. The teachers also taught these adolescents how to save their money and spend it accordingly.
Some of the younger children were given a short interview by the filmmakers. They were asked, why they like to go to the Library Train. They eagerly answered, with a smile on their face, that they felt safe there and wanted to study to get smart.
The volunteer policemen also have their own families and children. One invited the viewers into his home and showed us how he made robots on his days off work. He also demonstrated to us how a robot walks and moves his arms. He also admits to using magic as a way to motivate children to study.
The Mercy Center is a religious establishment that was set up to provide meals, education, and safety for young children.
Op is another young homeless girl that admitted to running away from home. She also hopped the Hua Lamphoug and went to Bangkok. She said she was afraid and felt hopeless. She said she begged for food to stay alive. Her dream is to have friends and graduate.
Noon is a third grader that is afraid of the dark but enjoys the Library Train because she can play, study, and eat there.
A short update on some of the children was provided at the end of the film. Jaran was shot in the leg. Op graduated from the Mercy Center. Koop got married and Tao is studying at the Mao Center.
Although this film has subtitles, it is very difficult to see these poor children trying to care for themselves. They were so very young and had already endured more in their short lifetime than other people will their entire live. A salute to the volunteers at the Library Train and Mercy Center for creating a safe environment for these children. Adults need to be responsible for their actions, by using birth control. This is the only way to stop this from occurring in poor countries.
This is a very sad film that allows us an opportunity to see inside the lives of Bangkok’s homeless children. They all seemed to be hopeful in the lowest times of their lives. Although homelessness is not so visible in the United States, since you do not see small children running around trying to survive on there own. There are many homeless families that live in their cars, under bridges, and in homeless camps. This film deserves a 7.5 out of 10.