Her Day Today

by Paiwan Benjakul

Fernís fear became her way to success

When Fern was young, dental works had never ever flashed up in fraction of a second to her dream. It was even something she was scared about. But along her journey of life, she is met with unexpected things.

Today Fern is a public dental health staff. She turned her life from a poor rural girl to where she is now. With perseverance and patience as key, she ended up with the challenge to face her fear through the urging of her father.

Fern is the second of the three children of farming family. They live in Amnat Charoen province. At a young age, Fern and her siblings helped their parents tend the farm. But even then, their family remained poor. However, they are blessed with parents who recognize the value of education and who believe that it is the key to a better future.

Fern recalls how her parents inculcated to them the value of perseverance and how she repeatedly heard them talk about their desire and dream for their children to receive higher education. Despite their poverty, her parents sent them to school.

When Fern was in first grade, World Vision began its development work in Pathumrat chawongsa district which covers three sub-districts including Na Pa Saeng where Fernís family lives.

Hope brought by Aunty Suthira

Fern was among the children who received child sponsorship support from World Vision. “I remember when school opened I received new school uniform, books and pencils. was very happy because we did not have much money.”

It was also then that another person outside of her family rallied along with her parents for her to receive good education - her sponsor. “Aunty Suthira, my sponsor, often wrote me letters and sent me gifts. I received a blanket from her during the cold season,” Fern reminisced.

As a sponsored child, Fern continued with her primary education while helping her parents work the farm until she completed eleventh grade. On her twelfth grade, she dedicated her time entirely in school to prepare for the entrance exams at Sirindhorn College of Public Health. This was a decision which was wholeheartedly supported by her parents and Aunt Suthira. But this was not well-received by their neighbours who believed that children should always support and care for their parents out of gratitude.

“They said that I burden my parents. Most of the local children quit school after completing sixth grade or ninth grade. They then find jobs in Bangkok so they can send money back home to support their parents. This thought really bothered me,” says Fern.

Encouragement helped Fern to keep going

But Fern got her parentsí and her sponsorís full support. They encouraged and assured her continually.

“As I read aunty Suthiraís letter, I was so touched. As a way of encouragement, she told me to study harder every time I remember my parents. If I work hard today, then my future would be brighter,” she continues.

This thought kept her motivated and persistent to pursue her dream until she finally enrolled at Sirindhorn College of Public Health. This was what she wished for.

“There were many applicants from our district who took the exams but only one will be admitted. I got that lone spot at the university,” Fern smiled widely trying hard to hide her self-pride.

Unpopular advice

Fern had only one reason in her decision to continue her education at Sirindhorn College of Public Health it was because work would be provided for all its graduates. Thus, she faced the dilemma of choosing which branch of study she should pursue for specialization. It was then that she sought her fatherís advice.

Fern wished she shouldnít have asked her fatherís opinion because he suggested that she take dentistry as a field of study.

“I was so afraid of dentists. But my father insisted that I face my fear; just go ahead and do it,” Fern now just laughed every time she is reminded of that conversation.

Fernís two years of intensive study eventually paid off. She was not only sure of landing in a good job but she also overcame her fear.

Serving home

After graduation, Fern sent Aunt Suthira a letter and thanked her for the sponsorship, encouragement and moral support that she unselfishly provided her. “If not for my sponsor, I would not be here,” says Fern who now works at Non Ngam sub-district health promoting hospital as a public dental health staff.

“It had been a year since I started. The neighbour who said that I burden my parents with my desire to finish education brought her grandchild here for tooth extraction. There is a district health hospital close to home but she wanted to prove my skills so she came all the way here. She has now accepted me,” says Fern with a grin.

Back then, they just depended on her parentsí only source of income. “Three of my siblings are still in school. At least one family member needs to sacrifice,” says Fern who agrees with her parentsí outlook on the value of high education.

On weekends Fern goes to Mahasarakham University for her Bachelorís Degree in Public Health. She said she plans to move back to Na Pa Saeng sub-district to serve at the district health hospital in her hometown.

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