The Khopai area is one of the largest housing areas where families with very low income reside, and it is well known that there is a high level of crime, alcohol and drugs in the area. The whole family generally lives in rented single rooms with very poor facilities. Facilities that most of us take for granted.
If employed, they are, more often than not, restricted to small enterprises like food carts or low paying manual work. If it was not for the existence of Pim Seaton and others, the young children would be left alone during the day with very little supervision or control.
Gho is the No. 1 teacher.
Pim Seaton was the CEO of the Mercy Foundation and has been working with the children from the slums for the last 6 years. With her husband, John, they have registered the Seaton Foundation and have started the Bangpra Centre in 2007. This is an early learning and support centre for children from low income families.
The early concept was to have a centre for up to 15 children between the ages of 2 ½ and 6 years. But there are now around 60 children attending 5 days per week, and half day on Saturdays, from 7.30 a.m. to 4-5 p.m. on weekdays. Pim is supported by Gho, who is the No. 1 teacher, and 4 others. The older children are taught to read and write in Thai and English and are also given some experience using computers. Like most children, they love playing games on the computer.
The morning starts with aerobics for all the children and various activities take place until lunch is served at 11 o’clock, followed by a sleep for the younger children but more work for the older children in preparation for school at the age of 6.
The older children have to work.
Discipline is high on the agenda and one thing that comes as a surprise when you visit is how 60 young children can be so quiet and orderly. The hitting and yelling of children is not permitted and discipline is maintained by the genuine love and commitment by those working at the centre.
The cost of running the centre is quite high but they are fortunate enough to have some generous sponsors including the Pattaya International Ladies Club, some Canadian sponsors, Pattaya Sports Club and naturally, John and Pim Seaton.
Lunch time at last.
If you would like to visit the centre or make a contribution, Khopai School is situated in Soi 1 along South Pattaya Road. You will be assured of a warm welcome from Pim and her staff.