It was in the early 1980’s that Baron Riccardo Carini first visited Pattaya. Initially coming to take advantage of the golfing facilities that Pattaya is renowned for, his trip was spoilt by the incessant rain.
Being a devout Catholic he decided to visit an American Catholic priest who, he had heard, had opened an orphanage and was caring for unwanted babies, the majority who were born to Thai mothers and foreign fathers.
Baron Carini, left, receives his award from Ambassador Vikrom Koonpirochana.
On arrival at the orphanage on Sukhumvit Road he met Father Ray Brennan, a member of the Redemptorist order who first arrived in Thailand in the late 1950’s and moved to Pattaya ten years later. After several years of being parish priest, both in Pattaya and with the US military who were based at the nearby U-Tapao airport, it was in 1974 the foundation stone was laid for the new orphanage building and by the time Baron Ricardo visited it had become home for almost forty babies and children.
After spending time with Father Ray, the Baron decided he wanted to do more than just hand over a cash donation. So impressed by the charismatic priest he met that on his return to the UK he set up the charitable trust and each month sent funds to cover the monthly food bills.
The year was 1982 and Father Ray’s work was growing. Following on from the orphanage he opened several other social projects including schools for deaf toddlers, blind children and offered vocational training for people with disabilities. Apart from the orphanage Father Ray also opened residential facilities for street kids and as each new project started the London based trust was there to support him financially.
As Father Ray’s work grew in size so did the London Trust. Being too much work for just one man the Baron employed full time fundraisers and staff to deal with the growing sponsorship programme. It became registered with the charity commission of England and Wales and the money sent to Thailand each month ensured there was always enough food for the children.
Just one of the thousands of children in Mae Sot who receive a nutritious school lunch each day.
Today the Thai Children’s Trust supports several projects in Pattaya; the Fountain of Life Women’s Center and the Pattaya Orphanage, as well as the 850 underprivileged children and students with disabilities who are living at the projects managed by the Father Ray Foundation. Sarnelli House in Nong Khai and the Camillian Center in Rayong, both caring for children living with HIV and AIDS, also receive much needed support.
In the Thai-Burma border town of Mae Sot thousands of school children, refugees from the fighting across the border, are receiving a nutritious and well balanced lunch, for many the only meal they will receive each day. The youngsters of Baan Than Namjai, founded following the tsunami that hit southern Thailand in 2004, are also ensured monthly support.
At the age of 82 Baron Carini is still involved with the Trust, now in the role of President of the Board of Trustees. For his devotion to the children of Thailand he received a Papal Knighthood from Pope John Paul II. In 2006 His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great of Thailand bestowed on the Baron the Order of the Direkgunabhorn for faithful service to Thai society.
Day to day running of the Thai Children’s Trust is down to a team of six fundraisers, administrators and accountants, led for the past thirteen years by Andrew Scadding, who visits Thailand each year to ensure the money his team raised is going to the children who need it.
The Thai Children’s Trust currently sends more than £700,000 to Thailand each year. Over thirty years, more than fourteen million pounds, seven hundred million baht at today’s exchange rate, has been raised in the UK and sent to the Kingdom, every penny going to improve the lives of the underprivileged of Thailand.
More information on the Thai Children’s Trust can be found at: www.thaichildrenstrust.org.uk
The Father Ray Foundation provides 850 children with a safe and loving environment to grow, thanks to the London based Trust.
The Trust has helped thousands of people living with a disability to become more independent.