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The King extends help to Ubon Ratchathani girl

His Majesty the King has graciously extended his help to a 12-year-old girl who had been fending for herself virtually all alone throughout the past several years.

The girl had lived alone in her village since her parents, accused of being cursed ghosts, were forced out of their village in Ubon Ratchathani's Sri Muang Mai district nine years ago.

The fourth grader at Baan Kum Ma Nai Rong Khae School managed to get by with help from her neighbours, free school meals and sheer determination to survive. After her case caught media attention, the royal help has arrived.

Distorn Vajarodaya, who chairs the Rajaprachanugroh Foundation, yesterday assigned the local branch of his foundation to pick up the girl who would be put under His Majesty's patronage.

His Majesty will give her scholarships until she completes her education at the highest level she is able to achieve.

The girl will start studying at the Rajaprachanugroh School 32 from August 25 onward.

Village headman Bunleu Sangchompoo recounted the incident to The Nation, saying that about nine years ago several villagers had mysteriously fallen ill and died. Later, when a shaman was called to look into the goings on, he claimed that the girl's father was a ghost and demanded that he leave the village immediately.

The girl's parents left that very night, dropping their daughter off at a house where she now lives, he said. The house she lives in was built by the tambon Na Lern Administrative Organisation.

The youngster said she has to wake up early every morning to clean a local shop and tend to a toddler or an old person in order to earn Bt5 or Bt10 in milk money for school.

While she usually skips breakfast, she is ensured a free lunch at school and even allowed to take some food home for dinner. The girl said she had been putting aside a few baht for her education.

"I want to be a doctor in a white gown when I grow up," the girl said excitedly.

Schoolteacher Chaveenut Pawang said that the young girl was quiet, diligent and always helped her teachers. However, she struggles with her studies.

"She tries to recite lessons and read by herself with a teacher's help. She keeps trying to help herself and doesn't ask for anybody's assistance. She also volunteers for work so she can earn something to put aside for her education. She has been giving her savings to her teacher to deposit in her Government's Saving Bank account, which now has some Bt600," the teacher said.

School director Srimoon Chuysuk is calling on people who would like to help to contact him via (089) 284 9860 at any time.

On Tuesday, Ubon Ratchathani governor Serm Chainarong presented the girl with Bt6,000 in assistance money.

The child will be put under the care of a youth and family welfare agency for an adjustment period before she is sent to Rajaprachanugroh School 32.


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