Radchada (Toy) Chomjinda talked about, “Father Ray and me & my journey with the Foundations.” Toy is the mother of 2 children and a proud grandmother. She gave up her Sunday, which was Thailand’s Mother’s Day, to give a heartwarming presentation to the Pattaya City Expats Club on August 12.
Toy is currently the volunteer Inter-Country Adoptions Representative for Pattaya Orphanage. She is also director of the Human Help Network Thailand (HHNT), an NGO chartered in 2008. Their charter is to support children and adolescents in need and fight child trafficking in Thailand and South East Asia. For more information on the organizations visit: www.thepattayaorphanage.org and http://www.hhnthailand.org/.
She started her presentation with a video memorializing the historic and evolving life and times of Fr. Ray Brennan, the Catholic Priest who started Pattaya Orphanage when a chance encounter with a baby left on the steps of the church where he was an acting Pastor at the time caused him to think about this baby and many others in need. Recognizing this, he persuaded the church to create a small shelter on Diocese land; thus, the Orphanage was created and as time progressed grew in size with more children and the addition of other charitable works for the blind and disabled and others. She felt this memorial was apt as it had been 15 years ago in the month of August that Father Ray passed away.
Toy then spoke about her background and what led her to approach Father Ray to work for the Orphanage. She graduated from an international secretarial course from the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus in 1977. She started her first job with an advertising company before getting an opportunity to work at the Japanese Embassy in the ESCAP Section, being secretary to the Minister for over 8 years. She then took the position of Secretary to the Ambassador at the Finnish Embassy where she worked for over 5 years. These positions were followed by a short stint in her own business before becoming Executive Secretary to the Managing Director at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center and working as a UNICEF Fundraising Assistant.
She says her life reached a turning point and she came to Pattaya to meet with Fr. Ray Brennan asking him for a meaningful job in which she could gain and at the same time contribute. After this first meeting with Fr. Ray, it sparked an instant passion for which she had been longing; a passion that is just as strong to this day. However, she noted that her instant passion also meant an instant pay cut. This was not so much of an issue as the joy of helping in a worthwhile cause was more suited to her kind and generous nature.
Initially, she worked as Secretary to Fr. Ray, but took on additional responsibilities. Toy recounted many stories about her life and times working with Fr. Ray and the Orphanage. She mentioned that she looked after several hundred children and how she somehow remembered all their names. She recounted many stories, one of how a Dutch charity had sent a consignment of used wheelchairs that were transported to Bangkok Airport free by a Swedish Airline. But, delivery was held up at Thai Customs. Toy described how she managed to obtain the necessary paperwork from another ministry in Bangkok that allowed customs to release the shipment to her. But, she also had to arrange for the transport to bring them to Pattaya. Their arrival amazed Fr. Ray and recognizing her effort, led to one of several salary increases as she proved herself able in doing other than just secretarial work.
She also became involved in assisting in Inter-Country Adoptions, a job she dearly loves. She said she was also instrumental in creating a new children’s card game designed to help children identify improper behavior from adults who may attempt to manipulate them into dangerous or unwanted situations.
Toy described how Fr. Ray was deeply hurt because of a tabloid paper printing baseless, unproven and reckless allegations regarding alleged child abuse. It caused Fr. Ray to have major depression and heartache, as the number one driving passion of his whole being was to absolutely do all in his power to protect children from any type of harm in life. Toy noted that in all the preceding years, not one single report or allegation has ever been mentioned by anybody.
She then mentioned Fr. Ray’s illness before his passing. It was during this period that the Fr. Ray Foundation was created. After his passing, the operation of the Pattaya Orphanage was taken over by the Diocese as it was on Diocese land while other projects were continued under the Fr. Ray Foundation.
At this point, Toy decided to establish the HHNT Foundation where she’s now involved, but she still continues as a volunteer at the Orphanage. Toy does not envisage ever stopping her present work as she feels it’s not so much a question of going to work, its more just living the life she desires. She also mentioned how she learned from Fr. Ray to never ask for donations direct, but rather to show potential contributors what good work is being accomplished and the donations followed.
Toy also had brought a book for those wishing to purchase it; the proceeds to go to the Orphanage. She said it was loaded with lots of stories, some funny some sad, as it relates the full story and wonderful history of Fr. Ray. The book is “In the Name of the Boss Upstairs: The Father Ray Brennan Story” by Jerry Hopkins, author and biographer.
The meeting concluded with the MC bringing everyone up to date on upcoming events followed by the Open Forum where members and guests can ask questions or make comments about Expat living in Thailand. Learn more about their activities or to subscribe to their weekly newsletter, visit www.pcec.club.