When contestants from the Miss New Zealand beauty pageant recently visited the Redemptorist School for Persons with Disabilities, they saw that children under the care of the Father Ray Foundation may have been limited in physical ability, but not in spirit.
Yuwadee Saelee, 20, brought home that message to the contestants with her story.
She said she was not born disabled, but developed disabilities with all four limbs through poverty and parental neglect.
Sakulthip Chairam (left) and Yuwadee Saelee (right) may have been limited in physical ability, but not in spirit.
She said her limbs atrophied progressively until she was two. “But my family was poor and I was left alone a lot. My family didn’t have money for treatment and I was the ninth child in the family,” the Phitsanulok native said, noting a younger sibling – the family’s 10th child – had died.
Her parents sent her to the Father Ray Foundation when she was 18 to care for her, which she welcomed. Yuwadee said she didn’t want to be a burden. Her goal now is to become a teacher.
Yuwadee said she loves the foundation because she has shelter, friends and is getting an education.
“If I could have chosen how I would be born, I would not have chosen this,” she said. But she said she’s intent on making the best of the hand she has been dealt.
Sakulthip Chairam, 19, likewise is disabled, the daughter of a Buriram farmer with two siblings.
She was brought to the foundation by her parents after neighbors informed them about its services in Pattaya. She has been disabled since birth, but feels she now has many opportunities.
Sakulthip said she misses her family, though, and wishes they’d move closer. But, she notes, Pattaya is not Buriram, so adjustment would be difficult.
For her future, she sees education is key. “It has widened my world,” Sakulthip said. “This foundation gives and gives, which is a feeling I has never experienced before.”