For the past 10 months, Sam has been collecting donations to buy rice to give to the families with disabled children. Each family receives 2-3 bags, or 5 kilos of rice, which has to be of high quality, as many of the kids have problems swallowing food. He usually does this on the first Saturday of each month in the Nong Prue Municipality at the top of Nernplabwan Road.
Sam flashes a big smile at Hand to Hand.
And after sitting down with Sam and hearing about his life and ambitions, we decided to join in too!
Sam Somkiat, born in Udon Thani, contracted polio when he was one year of age. Considered a burden by his family, they left him with his grandparents. But they were poor rice farmers, who also did not want Sam and when they went to work in the fields, they would leave him alone with just some sticky rice.
He was often beaten and his grandparents even tried to sell him. But, fortunately, a local doctor in the village, aware of the ongoing injustice, introduced Sam to some missionaries in the area, who took him in. Suddenly, his life did a complete 180.
Now there was love and care from his new family and they got him registered with the local amphur and sent him to school. Without any previous education, and speaking only Issan dialect, he persevered to learn to speak, read and write in both Thai and English.
Sam spent two years with the missionary family, before they had to return to their home country. But they continued their support by placing him in a boarding school in Udon Thani, where he finished and graduated from high school.
After that he hit the road and went south to the shores of Pattaya. Here, he studied with Maha Thai Redemptorist School for a year before going to work with the Christian Care Foundation for Children with Disabilities for 4 years.
One of Sam’s ‘children’.
Following that, he also worked with the Mercy Center, where he met Margaret Granger.
And now, since this year, Sam has been working with Margaret under their new organization, Hand-to-Hand, located in Duck Square in South Pattaya. Here they offer day care for kids of poor families, whose parents work during the day.
Sam, under this umbrella, has continued his rice distribution under the banner of the Eastern Association for Disabled Children.
However, his ultimate goal is to also help these special kids by establishing a rehabilitation center for the severely disabled, which is in sight now that Hand-to-Hand has petitioned for foundation status. This would be a day care facility offering physical therapy and training parents how to best assist and cope with their children’s disabilities.
In the meantime, the Jesters Care for Kids committee has agreed to cover their monthly rice costs, and at Sam’s insistence, we will help with the actual physical distribution too. In short, we can’t wait!
If you would like to help us care for disabled kids, please visit our website at www.care4kids.info and Facebook at www.facebook .com/care4kids.
Please remember that our Jesters Children’s Fair is on Sunday, September 11th this year at Diana Garden Resort and our Gala Party Night on Saturday, September 24th at the Amari Orchid Pattaya.