Remembering Miss Caulfield

Friday, 23 December 2011 From Issue Vol. XIX No. 51 By  Derek Franklin

On the morning of December 12, the Pattaya School for the Blind held a memorial ceremony to remember Miss Genevieve Caulfield who passed away in 1972.

Miss Caulfield was born in the United States, a healthy baby until she lost her sight when she was just two months old. During her teenage years she dreamed of becoming a teacher. After finishing college with determination and perseverance in 1923, at the age of thirty five, she travelled over to Japan and became an English teacher.

Khun Aurora pays respect to her teacher. Khun Aurora pays respect to her teacher.

Apart from teaching English to earn a salary she also taught young blind students to read and write using the Braille system.

She then moved to Thailand and in 1938 she founded the Bangkok School for the Blind, which she financed using her own savings.

During World War II she refused many offers to return home to the United States, staying in Bangkok where she continued educating the blind.

For her work in educating the blind of Asia, Miss Caulfield was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Understanding in 1961. Two years later she received the Medal of Freedom from President Lyndon B. Johnson and she also received the Royal Decoration of the White Elephant by H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

One of Miss Caulfield’s students was a young girl by the name of Aurora. This young student would grow up and follow in her teacher’s footsteps and, with the help of Father Ray Brennan, open the Pattaya Redemptorist School for the Blind.

The Pattaya School for the Blind opened in 1987 and offers an education which will give the blind students the opportunity to learn the skills where they could lead as independent a life as possible. Since the school opened, almost five hundred youngsters have enrolled and have studied from kindergarten up to grade 9.

The students stand for a minutes silence in memory of Miss Caulfield. The students stand for a minutes silence in memory of Miss Caulfield.

Khun Aurora is still principal of the school in Pattaya, and each December the 12th the students gather together, just as they do at similar schools throughout the Kingdom, to remember Miss Caulfield. The students stand for one minute of silence to pay their respects and give thanks to a lady whose determination and devotion ensures that they receive an education.

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