6 June 2024

At the moment, Wachiraporn is the oldest member of the Chaiyapruk Foundation, a private orphanage. She helps look after other children and takes responsibility for other chores around the house, like feeding the pigs and goats on the farm, washing clothes and teaching homework to the younger ones.

She has been living here for more than 10 years. Despite having a mother, the girl never knows where she is. Wachiraporn is being raised by Dr. Cleopandh Soorapanthu, known as ‘Pa Mor’, the founder of the Chaiyapruk Foundation, whom she loves as if she was her biological mother.

When asked, on a scale of one to ten, how happy she is, she replies “More than ten”, adding “I feel that this place is full of love, because everyone receives love from Pa Mor. She teaches everyone. At this house, we share everything and, when there is a problem, we talk. So, we never have conflict. Nothing at all. Pa Mor is always by our side and supports us. It makes me feel that this place is fantastic. This is my family”.

She explained that Pa Mor pays attention to her every detail, what she likes or dislikes and how she is as a person. She knows it all. As such, she is well aware that she is loved by the doctor.

Wachiraporn dreams about having a career as a graphic designer or an illustrator.

“I have been taught by Pa Mor since I was young and I have learned a lot from her. She is a sweet and gentle person, who is always neat and tidy. I got this quality from her too. One day, when I have a good and stable profession, I would like to come back here to return her kindness. I would like to pass on what I have received from Pa Mor to the younger generation. I want to give them my love”.

Wachiraporn: “I would like to pass on what I have received from Pa Mor to the younger generation. I want to give them my love”.

 

The Chaiyapruk Foundation

Founded 38 years ago, the Chaiyapruk Foundation is financially supported by charitable donations. The money is spent on house maintenance, utility bills, study equipment, food and so on. Monthly expenses are around 300,000 baht, but the donated income is unpredictable dependent upon the prevailing economic situation. Therefore, the children help lighten the load by growing vegetables, feeding the livestock and baking bread for sale.

The children’s tuition is funded mostly from Pa Mor’s salary. At 77 years old, Dr. Cleopandh is still working full-time at Bumrungrad Hospital, as an obstetrician, and she will not be able to retire in the foreseeable future, as her salary is the lifeblood of this foundation.

At present, there are around 20 children in the house, the youngest is 5. Each comes from a different background. They may be abandoned children or have only one parent, while a few were born to single underage mothers and, in recent years, the number of kids suffering abuse has increased. Undeniably, anyone who came from those circumstances could be ‘a broken child’.

Raising broken children is challenging, but not difficult, according to Dr. Cleopandh, adding with a smile “We must give love to them first. Everyone needs love, unconditional love. Whether they are disabled, difficult, not good at studying or lack intelligence, they still realise that someone loves them and they can feel my love.”

Her approach has proved to be very effective, because there are no ‘trouble children’ in the house. All of them have turned out to be grounded, disciplined, responsible and kind-hearted kids, the qualities that any decent child from a good family is supposed to have.

 

A valuable investment

As a devoted Christian, she teaches all of her kids to have faith in God. Pa Mor believes that every child needs not only food to survive, but they must have love for their sanity, as well as a spiritual anchor for their soul.

Behind the house there is a church, where everyone gathers on Sunday mornings to sing hymns, listen to the preacher and read the Bible.

Bruce Thabit is spending his third visit to Thailand at Chaiyapruk Foundation. He is a lawyer from Hawaii and a volunteer English teacher here. He sometimes preaches in the church as well.

For Bruce, the children in this house are not just orphans, they are special. They are like a family and, because of them, he flies across the world at his personal expense, not for a fancy holiday, but for a “soul” purpose.

In return, he says “You get joy. You establish friendships. You are investing in children and those children will grow up and become adults, and they’re going to be in charge. Someone needs to invest in children. I don’t have a lot of money, but I have time and I can invest my time here”.

Bruce Thabit : “You are investing in children and those children will grow up and become adults, and they’re going to be in charge. Someone needs to invest in children”.

 

“I want to develop quality kids”

Like many other private orphanages, volunteers play a crucial role in developing the children. Wicharn Chalearmveroj, or “Kru Kao”, who holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering, is one of them. He dedicates his time, resources and knowledge for the love of the children.

He teaches around 13 students, as three children have already finished high school and moved to universities. Kru Kao teaches them individually. They don’t have the same basic knowledge, so he would like to develop them individually, so they get better and better.

“One of them is quite smart. He is studying in grade 3, but he asks me to teach him at the high school level. For example, now I teach him just addition and subtraction, but he wants to learn about multiplication and division”.

On weekdays, Kru Kao works for his own company. Every Saturday, however, he comes to teach the children. It has been a year since he became a volunteer maths tutor. Apart from teaching, he also pays close attention to the children’s needs and gives them a hug whenever they ask.

Under his tutelage, he hopes to contribute to society by fostering quality human beings, for which he gets nothing but happiness in return.

“I feel like I have a chance to give love to them, give my knowledge to them, because the children here, they lack for love. They feel like they don’t have enough love. So, I think it’s good for everyone who comes here to show them there is love in the world so they can grow up and can survive”.

Wicharn Chalearmveroj, or “Kru Kao: “I think it’s good for everyone who comes here to show them there is love in the world so they can grow up and can survive”.

 

One of a kind

While children’s homes and shelters across the country are capable of looking after abandoned children, by providing food, shelter, healthcare and education, they cannot replace the children’s families. Therefore, the children can feel a lack of love and security.

What makes Chaiyapruk Foundation different from other orphanages is that all the kids see it as their real family, with many siblings. The children are not only provided with food, education and life’s necessities, but their emotional and spiritual well-being are also looked after.

To date, Dr. Cleopandh has raised around 140 children. It is a lifelong mission, because she will always be their mother, and that is a blessing.

“My pride is that they become good people. Some of them may not be college graduates, but I’m proud of them, because they are honest, hard workers and don’t make trouble for others. They can stand on their own two feet. If people at their workplace know that this person was raised by Dr. Cleopandh, they know that they can be trusted. Many of my children have had very good jobs”.

Asked whether the kids realise that they are really fortunate to live in this house and to be loved, Cleopandh says “I wish they knew, but I think some of them might not know. How could they know it? I have never made an announcement about how nice I am. I have a duty to provide them with love, warmth and the best education possible. My responsibility is to develop them into well-rounded people”.

The doctor recalled that her grown-up sons and daughters, who have already left home, always say that, if there was no Pa Mor, if they hadn’t lived in this house, they wouldn’t have made it to this point.

“Then I said to my children that they should thank God and the generous people who come to help me, because I just wouldn’t be able to handle this all by myself. It needed a considerable amount of money to pay for your tuition fees, until you graduated”.

She wishes for her children to continue to be an inspiration. One person can be a role model for 10 others, 100, or 1,000 people. “They can be a role model”.

 

By Jeerapa Boonyatus

 

Donate to Chaiyapruk Foundation

Bangkok Bank: Nana Nua branch

Account: 197 0 134 134

Swift code: BKK BTHBK

 

An orphanage raising ‘quality’ kids