During February, while EDF was doing the field survey to randomly visit homes of students who applied for a scholarship support, we had a chance to meet with Porntippawan Yangwantana or “Tai”, a 17-year girl who currently studying in grade 10 at Ban Khao Saming Wittayakom School, Trat province.
She is currently living with “Chalam” her 69-year blind father, “Charoen” her disabled eldest brother, “Toei” and “Tong”, her 13-year and 10- year younger brothers and “Namtan”, her 5-year little sister. 6 of them live together in an old single storey wooden house which is almost empty.
When her father turned blind from the uncured cataract 4-5 years ago, Tai’s mother had become a sole breadwinner of the family since then. Her mother worked as a daily low pay worker and also selling grilled meat balls. Tai always helped her mother work and earn for a living after school and every weekends.
In November 2011, the situation was getting worse when Tai’s mother ran away from home at night and never contact back to anyone in the family since then. All the burdens in the family then become Tai’s responsibility including some debts that her mother once borrowed from the neighbors for family’s expenses.
Tai told us that “After mom left home, we had no idea about her reason of leaving us until I met with mom’s relatives and they told us that mom left us to live with her new family in Sra Gaew province. We are so depressed and my little brother and sister is always crying and thinking of her. If mom has had any problem, at least she should let us know. I wish my mom could come back...to be a warm family together again”
Porntippawan (Tai) with her blind father, "Chalam", disabled eldest brother, "Charoen" and 3 of her yonger siblings, "Toei", "Tong" and "Namtan"
Without mother, Tai now becomes a head of the family. She sells fruits in the market every weekend from early morning until 8-9pm and earns 300 Baht a day. In some day, she also works as a daily worker in helping the fishermen collect little shrimps and craps from the fishnet and earns 5-10 Baht/ a net. However, the income is still not enough to support the whole family and schoolings for all the kids, so, Toei had to drop out from his study in grade 7 to take care of dad and disabled brother at home. Tong and Namtan who is studying in grade 5 and kindergarten also could not go to school very often. Tai, who is studying in a high school located 30 kilometers away, has owed the school bus fee for 4 months and during this summer break she has to work everyday to earn enough money to pay for the school bus and also family’s debts and other expenses.
Tai’s dad told is that “I married with my wife for more than 20 years. I did not feel sad anymore. May be she had to leave us for her better life. Right now, I am only worrying about the kids. I want all of them to have better future, but I cannot help them anything. I am getting old and not in good health. Nobody give me a job. I once thought of commit a suicide so that I would not be a burden for the kids but after carefully think over, without me how the kids will live their lives, the oldest one is disabled, Tai is just a girl and the other 3 are still very young”
Ms. Supawadee, Tai’s homeroom teacher, told us that “Tai is a very good and talented student. She gets morethan 3.00 grade point average in every semester. She is also loved by all her friends at school and being elected as a student leader every year. When her mother ran away from home, she did not tell anything to me until I noticed that she was not cheerful as usual and she had no money to buy lunch at school. Nowadays, teachers and friends always share her some lunches at school. If there is anything that we can help her, all teachers will try our best because we want her to complete high school and has a chance to study in higher level”
Tai told us about her dream that “I dream to be a teacher because the teacher is a person who enlighten the student. I would also like to enlighten the children, help them, give them knowledge and importantly, I would like to help those less fortunate children just like me”.
Today, only Tai who still remains studying at school since Toei, her 13-year brother had to drop out his 7th grade at school to take care of father and disabled brother, Tong and Namtan, her 10-year brother and 5 year sister will temporary drop out from school since their school decided them to repeat the same grade again in next semester due to their insufficient school attendances. The only thing that we do not expect to happen is that Tai might be another one and last one in the family who could not go back to school again when the new semester begins this coming June 2012.
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The Education for Development Foundation (EDF) was established in 1987 and was officially registered as a charitable organization No.255 under the laws of Thailand.Your donation to support any of EDF scholarship programs and development projects can be tax-exempted to the full extent allowed by Thai laws.