For more than twenty five years the Redemptorist Vocational School for People with Disabilities in Pattaya has been educating young adults with varying levels of disability. Students arrive at the school from provinces all over the Kingdom and for two years they gain the skills and knowledge that will give them the opportunity to find decent employment and become independent.
Seventeen year old Pootharet Khongrak will be making the long journey to Nong Khai.
More than two thousand five hundred students have graduated from the Pattaya campus, and the school not only educates those with disabilities but also attempts to educate society in the ability and value of people with disabilities.
On the morning of Monday 7th May a group of students and teachers left the school at the start of ‘Rally 1479’. This will see them travel 1479kms from Pattaya to Bangkok and across nineteen provinces to the northern city of Nong Khai.
Along the way they will hold workshops in major towns and cities to promote the work of the school, raise the issue of disability rights, give advice and accept donations for the planned Nong Khai branch of the school, the construction of which is due to start later this year.
From Pattaya the participants will travel to Bangkok, arriving on Saturday 12th May. The following day the students will visit Siriraj Hospital to pay respects to His Majesty the King. As part of their activities while in the city, the wheelchair users will visit several MRT and BTS stations to demonstrate the problems many people with disabilities face when attempting to use public transport.
A visit to Government House to pay a call on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will be the final stop in the capital before the students make their way towards Isaan and the long journey north.
Two of the athletes who are about to start their epic journey across Thailand.
If all goes to plan, and there are no obstructions along the way, the convoy will arrive in Nong Khai on Saturday 23rd of June, just in time for the 2012 Nong Khai Marathon which will take place the following day. Many wheelchair users will join the marathon and all proceeds from the race will be donated to the soon to be built school in Nong Khai.
“As we cross the country we hope to inspire people who are living with a disability to pick up the phone and call 1479,” said Suporntum Mongkolsawadi, former student, teacher and Principal of the school and now managing director of the Father Ray Foundation. “We can give them all the advice and help they need to find suitable training and employment.”