In May 2013 eight young adults from provinces all over the country, from Nong Bua Lamphu in the northeast to Songkla in the south and several in between, arrived in Pattaya to study at a school which will change their lives forever.
The students, two men in their thirties and six women aged from nineteen to twenty seven, enrolled in the Computer & Business Management in English course at the Redemptorist Vocational School for People with Disabilities.
On their first day at the school they stood, or sat in a wheelchair, together with seventy other new students who were enrolled on either the computer science, electronic repair or the elementary education course.
Prior to arriving in Pattaya, most had never had a job and almost all could not speak a word of English.
Eighteen year old Deer from Songkla said that she, “never had a job before, I just stayed home and helped my mother take care of the home.” While Fern, 19, from Korat, could not speak a word of English before arriving in Pattaya, “but now I can, and I have also learned a lot about other cultures.”
Over the past two years they have become the best of friends, but as they leave Pattaya and go their separate ways they do so with the knowledge, the skills and the confidence to work as a person with a disability alongside others and as equals; and they all have a job to go to.
The eldest of the class, thirty three year old Dor from Buriram said that the school, “gave us a chance to study, helped us to become more confident and the good thing is that we were taught by native English speakers.”
They will not only miss each other when they leave, but they will also miss the school. But as Surin native Force, 33, mentioned, there will be one job that he and his classmates will not miss about the school, “our job each morning was to clean the toilets. I never want to have to clean a toilet again, unless it is mine.”
Since the school opened in 1984, more than three thousand young adults living with a disability have successfully graduated.
More information can be found at www.fr-ray.org or email [email protected]