‘I’ve worked since I was in high school. I have spent my free time and my weekends making money and providing for myself. I have never had a chance to enjoy my childhood like other children’, Suraphan, or Chao, started sharing about his story.
Suraphan lost both father and mother when he was only 8 years old. Since then, the little boy’s life has entirely depended on his grandmother, who has raised him on her own. As Suraphan was growing up, his grandmother was getting older and wearier. Poverty worsened the boy’s life and left him in deprivation and vulnerabilities. But with his perseverance and the love for his grandmother, the boy has been working hard on his schooling, hoping to become self-dependent and the provider for his grandmother in the future.
Although the boy’s life was pounded by the devastating storm, his opportunity to prosper has not met its dead end. ‘One year before my parents passed away, I had been registered as a sponsored child of World Vision Foundation of Thailand. I was in grade 1 at that time’, said Suraphan. The continuous support the boy received from his sponsor has lifted him up and given him hope again as he was provided with an ongoing educational opportunity that helped his grandmother out of overburdened expenses.
Nevertheless, the life filled with hardship in which the boy struggled for him and his grandmother to live day by day has shaped him into a youth with maturity. ‘When I was in grade 10, I started to find jobs to do to lessen Grandma’s burdens’. With his gratitude toward his grandmother, the only parent he has, Suraphan chose to spend his free time working in the field in exchange for small amounts of wages that were used to provide for himself although the harsh work seemed to exceed the ability of a 15-year-old boy.
Besides working labouriously in the field, Suraphan has been determined in writing his own future based on his education and grabbing every opportunity coming in his way. When the Child Sponsorship Programme in Phumen Project, Uthai Thani province collaborated with his school to conduct vocational skills development activities for sponsored children, he did not hesitate to sign up for the training right away, even though the activities involved fabric quilting that requires sewing, stitching, and meticulous skills, which sound like nothing for a boy.
Suraphan learnt every process of fabric quilting until he has mastered putting together remnants into neat fabric bags. The Child Sponsorship Project further supported children to build upon their fabric quilting skills and make a variety of products, such as coin purses, pouches, and fabric bags in various sizes, and collaborated with the school to distribute the handicraft products that Suraphan and his friends made for sales at schools, in the community, and at an array of the provincial product fairs, which generated income for Suraphan and his friends in the quilting group.
‘I would like to thank my sponsor for constant support. I also thank WVFT staff for this initiative that gave my schoolmates and me an opportunity to learn how to make quilted fabric bags and make a living. We gained both vocational experiences and income from selling fabric bags. Although we could not generate a huge volume of income, this was a good beginning for us to practise and develop our confidence in doing vocational activities’.
Presently, Suraphan is getting closer to his academic success. He is a first-year student at Sukhothai College of Dramatic Arts. Spending more time with studying, Suraphan has grown distance away from making quilted fabric bags. But thanks to the perseverance, hardworking, and determination that have been instilled in him since he was young, Suraphan has been able to translate other abilities, including traditional Thai dancing and makeup skills, which he has gained from the college, into income. ‘I do not want to bother my grandmother. College fees and tuitions cost a lot. I would do whatever to generate extra income, even though it may not be a large amount of money. I’ll pay attention at studying and complete my bachelor’s degree programme’, said Suraphan with a determination and steadiness in his eyes.
Because of the sponsor’s generosity, today, Suraphan is moving towards a brighter future.