Parents of AFS students to seek PM’s help to return their children to Thailand
The parents of about 200 Thai students, currently in the USA under the American Field Service (AFS) exchange program, will meet with Thailand’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister tomorrow (Monday) to seek government support to bring their children back to Thailand.
Some of the parents told Thai PBS that the children who are abroad for the first time are very afraid of catching COVID-19 while in the United States, and that they have never been in such a potentially hazardous situation.
“Sometimes, when necessary, our children go outside wearing face masks and are stared at as though they are strange creatures because, there in the US, most people are not wearing face masks,” said one parent.
They also complained that it is difficult for their children to obtain a doctor’s “fit to fly” certificate, because the clinics and hospitals are far from where they live with their American hosts, in addition to the risk of exposure to coronavirus, which has, so far, infected more than 200,000 in the US.
They said that the best they can do is to speak with their children by phone, send them face masks and sanitizer gel and discuss, with their host parents, the COVID-19 situation in their neighbourhood.
Several host parents have contacted hospitals to arrange appointments to get “fit-to-fly” certificates without success, because the doctors are very busy.
The AFS Thailand office informed parents that it will try to bring one student back to Thailand on March 31st and more on April 1st, 2nd and 7th, but the actual numbers have not yet been disclosed.
The Thai high school students, aged between 14 and 16, arrived in the US in August last year and are due to return to Thailand in June.
Meanwhile, the AFS Foundation said that it understands the concerns of the parents, assuring that AFS Thailand and US offices have been trying their best to bring the Thai students home safely.