The story of Nong, currently 46 years old.
On December 26, 2004, a tsunami occurred. But let me take you back to the night of December 25, 2004, which was a Christmas party. At Aussie Bungalow, Laem Pom Beach, where I used to work. There was a Christmas party and everyone had so much fun, with all the guests, which were mostly Aussies. That night my brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews also attended. Personally, I was having a lot of fun and pure happiness, it was a memory that I will never forget till today. But the next morning was a cruel day that blew love and loss that will never return. Much damage, including mental, property, lost loved ones, brothers, sisters, grandchildren, kids, and husbands. My mother was injured and my brother broke his leg and was hospitalised for a month and continued to be treated at home, and he received assistance from the government to alleviate the initial suffering.
From the chaos, fear, sorrow and despair of this event, there was no place to hold the mind and I do not know what to live for. But in that situation, we must be strong within the tear stains. Must be able to resolve things to save my injured mother and brother and must find the bodies of my kids, husband and relatives. Finally finding all the bodies and waiting for the time to prove the DNA, to bring to the funeral ceremony, it was a very painful time with a wait that will never return the beloved. One day whilst in my sorrow and confusion, a woman called to invite me to work as a volunteer at the Duang Prateep Foundation. (I later learned that it was Kru Prateep Ungsongtham Hata, the founder of the Duang Prateep Foundation and former Bangkok Senator.) I accepted this opportunity and was very happy, because the word foundation is an opportunity to help others. At that time, I only thought that I did not know why I would live because I missed my kids so much. But having the opportunity to raise orphans who have lost their parents, who are like us, can be a replacement for what we are missing. Although they are not my kids, we have a love and relationship like my kids. Thank you for this life when I met Mae Kru Prateep who gave me the opportunity to work and help others and society. Every time we hug will be happy and warm, it is the strength to keep fighting.
Time passes from tents to buildings, from Duang Prateep Foundation to Baan Than Namchai Foundation, from mental rehabilitation to sustainable development. Kru Prateep has assigned Kru Ae, Ms. Rotchjana Praesrithong to be the head of the project to take care of orphans from the tsunami in a tent. And one day, Mr. Peter Baines, Ms. Gill William, foreign police who came to help find and identify foreign bodies. They came to visit orphans at the Bang Muang tent and told Kru Ae that “We will go back and raise money to build a house for the orphans.” Shortly after, Khun Peter and Khun Gill returned to Thailand to build a house for the children orphaned by this tragic event. The first house that we have lived together in was a large family one and it became the home of Than Namchai. And the feeling that I received from working at the foundation was amazing.
I received many opportunities to learn new things, having the opportunity to help others, doing things I had never done have always challenged me. Working at the foundation, I got to know good people in society. It is a multi-tasking and challenging task with problems that come along, and always solve problems well. Even sometimes discouraged, sad, disappointed, happy, proud, it is a learning that never ends. With 18 years elapsing that makes us grow up and be strong. Receiving love, bonding, warmth, encouragement, which lets me work happily. I have had the opportunity to have many impressive moments and opportunities. Once in my life, I went abroad for the first time in my life. I was so excited that I had the opportunity to study English in Wisconsin, and I travelled to Sydney Australia for 3 months. It was very impressive.
Another good memory is the first experience as well, I became a representative of the 800km bike ride for 9 days. I experienced this with the Hands team and soon realised the depth of tiredness of the Hands team, I realised it wasn't easy to get money to support us. How tired and patient do you all have to be? And in some moments when I churned out tears, it came out of my dedication and patience to raise money to help us. This was another impression that will never be forgotten by me.
From the work that I always miss that has nurtured us for 18 years, Hands has never abandoned us and the children have a place to live, they have a better quality of life, they “eat well, sleep warm” and also their education is promoted, encouraged and expected.
This has developed us as a good seed to grow. Hands have come to help every life grow for generations, have a better quality of life and be a good person in society. Baan Than Namchai Foundation always remembers the kindness of Hands who have always given me the opportunity and help as well. Thank you for being "great".