PHUKET: Children are our future as the song tells us and to prepare them for the waiting world of adulthood we endeavor to provide a wealth of learning experiences that are an important tool for their development.
National Children’s Day in Thailand was celebrated on January 14 and many places marked this special occasion with events filled with fun activities. The purpose of these activities is not only to mark the occasion, but also to show children how important they are.
Life Home Project Foundation (LHPF) is the Phuket based organization that offers help to HIV/AIDS infected women and their children. The foundation was established in May 2001 and since then they have provided shelter and career training as well as education scholarships for the children.
On January 15, the LHPF celebrated a combination of Children’s Day, New Year and Christmas all rolled into one magic afternoon.
Daoroong “Joojee” Rodsomnam, project manager for LHPF is one of the driving forces behind the success of the organization.
“It is important for our kids to experience outside activities so they can practice their social skills and explore the world away from their usual environment,” said Daoroong.
“We don’t consider the day just as Children’s Day, it is also our annual festival that we have held for three years already. We allow all the children who are under our care, children who received scholarships from us, and the children who live around this area, to gather and have a good time,” she said.
Saowaluck “Sao” Rittideth is one child who benefits from the foundation’s work and explained to the Gazette how it is helping to improve her life.
“I’m in Phutthamongkolnimitr School in Matthayom 2 (Grade 8). I have been on the scholarship program from LHPF for four years now,” said Saowaluck.
“My family is really poor and they can’t afford to send me to school. If I didn’t get the scholarship from LHPF, I wouldn’t get an education like this. I am so grateful for the opportunity,” she added.
“I intend to continue to study at higher level. I want to get at least a college degree or if I am lucky enough, I wish I could make it to a bachelor degree. Then I will come back to offer my help to this foundation the best I can,” she added.
Anon “Ahao” Seaesoon told the Gazette he has been under the care of LHPF for nine years.
“I first came to this foundation when I was three years old. I don’t remember much about my family, all I know is that I came from Chiang Mai. I have grown up here and I consider this place my home and the people are my family,” said Anon.
“I would like to continue to study until I graduate with a bachelor’s degree and be able to take care of myself. I will continue to support this foundation, so that my sisters and brothers can have the same opportunity that I’ve had. I want to be a police officer in the future,” he said.
The educational achievements of the children that have been supported by LHPF are a direct measure of its overall success.
“One of our kids is currently earning his degree in engineering from one university in Bangkok,” said Mr Noppadon Puangpan, a social worker at LHPF.
“It really doesn’t matter if the kids come back to help us here. What is important is that they are able to rely on themselves. I am proud that our foundation makes a difference in their lives,” he added.
Besides the children who enjoyed the event, many adults came to celebrate the annual festival.
Mr Hans Frutiger, General Manager of the Mövenpick Hotel and Resort Phuket in Karon beach has joined in the celebrations every year.
“We always enjoy lending our support to LHPF. Last year we held a charity gala dinner at our resort to help raise funds for the foundation and I am delighted to support their efforts for any occasion,” said Mr Frutiger.
“Our hotel is the only hotel in Phuket that has the Green Globe Award and part of that achievement stems from the community work we are involved in such as the LHPF,” he added.
Mrs Ingrid Gudmundsson lost her daughter in the 2004 tsunami and has been supporting underprivileged kids ever since, under her own foundation called “Inda Hjälpen”.
“My daughter, Linda, was a jewelry designer and after she died I took over her factory and made a charity,” said Mrs Gudmundsson.
“I took the money and donated it to help rebuild a school in Khao Lak. Now I design jewelry and the money I make, I donate to the students in Khao Lak and to the children here at LHPF,” she said.
“I have sponsored five LHPF children for their scholarship. Today, I am here to celebrate with them. I brought them a lot of presents as well,” she added.
Also at the event was Hélène Fallon-Wood, the Honorary Consul of Ireland in Phuket and director of LHPF.
“I have supported LHPF since 2001. Jose Luis Gay set this foundation up and I came to help six months afterwards,” said Hélène.
“There have been great improvements since we began in 2001. The greatest part of our achievement is the fact that some of the children we have supported are already relying on themselves now. We are very happy to be part of their future and see them grow up with strength and intelligence,” she added.
Hélène indicated that she will do the best she can to keep this foundation running and revealed that the annual fund raising event this year at the Mövenpick Hotel and Resort in March.will have a different look.
“I would like to thank everyone who is supporting us and I hope they will continue to support us in the future. We will make sure that all the children under our care get the full benefit from the donations and they have the best future waiting for them,” she said.
— Chaiyot Yongcharoenchai
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