Mr. Giorgio (Gio) Luicardi, originally from Italy, at the PCEC meeting on July 15, 2018, gave a very informative talk about the journey he has been involved with in order to help with the plight of underprivileged children by providing a place to protect children from abuse and help them to move on to a better environment. Gio has dedicated his life, energy and time to create his “Take Care Kids” (TCK) non-profit organization in Italy twelve years ago. Four years later in 2010, Gio registered it as a Foundation here in Thailand operating in Pattaya.
He arrived here in Pattaya around 23 years ago as a journalist. On that occasion, he had a long interview with Fr. Ray at his orphanage. He started volunteering 10 years after to help out in the orphanage.
TCK currently has three projects. First, is providing a Foster Shelter, which has to follow all the stringent regulations required by Thailand. Initially it was based on Sukhumvit Road, as an office based start-up becoming recognized officially and began taking care of children up to the ages of three in 2013. By 2016, TCK secured a new base in Pattaya; a five bedroom twin townhouse with a play area courtyard garden. Many of the foster children have been received on the recommendation from police/social welfare officers. The concept is to create a supportive family type environment; ideally up to 15 with a maximum capacity of 20, allowing single mothers up to two years to prepare to take on the care of their young children and be rehabilitated back into a position to be reintegrated into a better safer life with a more stable future for all concerned.
The second project involves offering ongoing support to single mothers who have moved on from the shelter after the two-year period. Many of the foster children have been rescued after suffering all kinds of abuse and most being introduced on the recommendation from police/ social welfare officers.
Third of their projects is assisting children of many vulnerable people, who are from surrounding countries, e.g., Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam that have been lured by the promise of a better way of life, work options and opportunities. However, the harsh reality is either a short lived job option or false promises leaving them in a very vulnerable situation as illegal immigrant status, no work permits, and no financial means. This can lead them into desperately dangerous situations of imprisonment and seeking refuge in the slums and construction site camps. Far from being a place of refuge, it opens them up to the criminal world of prostitution and sex trafficking. In this group can be found some horrendous levels of child abuse; all this with no access to health or education facilities. TCK actively visits these camps with clothing help, advice and monitoring for the presence and reporting of undesirable stalkers seeking to take advantage.
Gio showed some heartwarming video footage of the recovering children being taught to take individual and collective responsibilities regarding washing, cleaning, and tidying their clothes and rooms, along with bonding through games and play out in the courtyard. Take Care Kids children are also supplied with uniforms enabling them, many for the first time, to attend and make new friends with kids who have not suffered these traumas at a local school.
Gio waited till the end of his program to show some photos of a young girl who was physically rescued from a locked room after neighbors alerted authorities of constant crying and screaming. Prior to showing the photos, the audience was advised of their nature and offered the opportunity step outside the meeting room while they were being shown. Gio explained how they, with the aid of the authorities, took her from the home, first to hospital, and later to their shelter. It transpired that she suffered horrific burns from an abusive step mother. In concluding, he showed pictures of the young girl’s remarkable ability to physically recover, although Gio mentioned that in most cases the mental trauma is the real longer term hidden damage. This particular young lady has been reunited with her natural mother and is being monitored on a regular basis, albeit by Gio personally as part of his family trips to Bangkok.
TCK exists through the help of donations and has developed a very attractive range of merchandise, T- shirts and coffee mugs for sale, of which all profits go directly towards the expenses. Currently, they are hoping to purchase an enclosed van for transporting the children authorities have suggested since the current covered truck is not a very safe or comfortable means of transport. They also need clothes, toys, donations. A small step for you ~ a whole new life for a child or family.
After Gio answered many questions from the audience, Brad Walker took the stage to briefly update his listeners about the success of his enterprise which he covered in his July 2, 2017 presentation to the PCEC. This venture involved an online business based in the USA that purchased the goods they sold here in Thailand.
The meeting concluded with MC Roy Albiston bringing everyone up to date on upcoming events which was then followed by the Open Forum where members and guests can ask questions or make comments about Expat living in Thailand. For more on the PCEC and their activities or to subscribe to their weekly newsletter, visit www.pcec.club.