Reflections on working with a charity, by Teacher Shah
In 2012 I moved to Phuket after teaching in Bangkok. It was a great move for me. I love my new colleagues and students and I was happier despite the pay cut. I began to realize that being happy is more important than being paid a lot and feeling truly miserable. It gives me a warm feeling to know I am making a difference in these students’ lives.
Where I am teaching at the Kamala school we have orphans from the tsunami, social orphans, students from abusive families and very poor families, students with parents who are working and cannot look after them and other circumstances I’d rather not mention. These students stay in the school and can only go home during long term breaks. It’s heartbreaking to see these students who have so little, be so genuinely happy.
During my interaction with them, I found out many heartbreaking stories that made me cry. Once I asked a Primary 6 boy why he is living at school and if he likes it here. He said his mum had to work to earn money and save money so that she can take care of him when he comes home. I asked if he is upset about this and he said no. He said he understands that his mom has to work hard and has no time to take care of him and that he wants to study hard so that he can help his mum in the future. It drove me to tears when I heard this.
I also talked to a high school student who told me she hasn’t seen her mum since she was two and was brought up by a Christian foundation. When she told me this I could see she was very sad. A few weeks later it was the school’s Mother’s Day celebration. This is a huge ceremony, paying respect and thanking all the student’s mothers who had gathered in the school hall. This student came to me sobbing because she has no mother. While I hugged her, sobbing too, she said she missed her mother. My heart went out to her.
In Thai schools, Father’s Day and Mother’s day is celebrated on the King’s and Queen’s birthday. As you can already guess this is a very difficult day for our residential students because their parents are not around. It’s really heartbreaking to watch the kids with parents running into their parent’s arms while our residential kids stand looking around, confused and upset. These children then burst into tears, hugging their fellow friends in the same plight, or finding a teacher to hug, us included.
These two days are especially hard for these young children and heart-wrenching for us foreign teachers to bear. Our hearts go out to them and hopefully by providing them free English lessons, we will help them create a better future for themselves. Then maybe their children won’t need to suffer like they did. That’s our hope. I must say if it’s not for the Phuket Has Been Good to Us Foundation supporters, child sponsors, class sponsors, and our dedicated volunteers, this would not be possible.
As for me, I am very happy that I can help these kids as their teacher. There are many more heartbreaking stories but I shall let those stories stay with their little owners.