For almost two decades, Wat Thung Hiang School in Chon Buri's Phanat Nikom district has remained a second home providing learning opportunities for needy children especially from northern hilltribes.
Thanks to the generosity of Abbot Phra Kru Sophon Pattanapirom, or Luang Pu Boon Sopano, 84, who founded the school for children from poor families, this primary school under the Basic Education Commission now accommodates 230 pupils and 50 kindergarteners, of whom half are from hilltribes and some from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.
Luang Pho hosts Hmong students from various mountainous provinces in the North to live and learn at no expense. After breakfast, they walk to the school and return home to get dinner at the temple.
However, the school lacks enough teachers, essential educational equipment, instructional media, sports equipment, library books as well as a school lunch budget, like many schools in provincial areas.
On Children’s Day, volunteers from the editorial departments of The Nation and Kom Chad Luek visited the school to contribute gifts, books, milk, snacks and clothing.
About 100 kilometres east of Bangkok, the small one-storey school building is located in a peaceful area on the temple’s property. There is no playground for kids, only a soccer field the children can play on or use for recreational activities.
The boys and girls were cheerful and excited to welcome the volunteers and helped carry the stuff into the school building. They smiled and laughed after receiving the gifts, and some exchanged toys for their favourite ones.
Principal Rungaroon Sermsun-thornsilp acknowledged that teachers have to make more of an effort to teach because of the classroom mix of Thai and hilltribe students.
Though the Hmong students are far away from home and parents, they feel warmth and are happy due to the kind care of the monks and teachers.
Kuai Jeng, a five-year old Hmong boy, came from Phu Tab Berk in Phetchabun, about 350 kilometres north of Bangkok. Kuai Jeng became well loved because he is obedient, friendly and delightful.
Rungaroon said that besides basic education, the children beed support for further study at the secondary, vocational or even higher education levels.
For donations or scholarships, please contact Wat Thung Hiang School at 038 466 116 or 089 024 4306.