“We never turn a needy child away” said Father Mike Picharn Jaiseri, Vice President of the Father Ray Foundation-President of the Redemptorist Foundation for People with Disabilities when he spoke to the Pattaya City Expats Club on Sunday, August 31 about the Father Ray Foundation. Also providing commentary was Derek Franklin from the Foundation staff. The Father Ray Foundation takes care of 850 orphaned, abused, and disadvantaged children and students with disabilities.
Father Mike began by mentioning his first association with Father Ray, including being his assistant about 17 years ago for a period of 5 years. He returned again 4 years ago to work with the Father Ray Foundation which not only is carrying on the works of Father Ray, but also have expanded their efforts to carry out other projects that Father Ray had envisioned at the time of his death in August 2003.
Father Mike tells PCEC members and guests about the projects of the Father Ray Foundation including its latest efforts to build a Center of Excellence to provide therapy to and educate parents for children with special needs.
Derek said that he came to Pattaya in 2000 to work as a volunteer with the Foundation; his training being a pediatric nurse. After this exposure, he came with plans to stay 6 months; but has now been with the Foundation there more than 10 years.
Father Mike and Derek, with the aid of several short videos, then described the many projects the Foundation carries out. For Children, these are the Father Ray Children’s Home, Children’s Village, and Drop in Center. They also have the Redemptorist School for the Blind which teaches skills that blind children will need to live as independent a life as possible.
PCEC Chairman Roy Albiston presents a certificate of appreciation for the presentation about the Father Ray Foundation to Father Mike as Foundation staff member Derek Franklin looks on.
For the disabled, the Foundation has two Vocational Schools. One is here in Pattaya and the other is in Nong Khai, 700 km away. Father Mike said that 52% of Thailand’s disabled are located in the Northeast; thus the reason for locating the school in that area.
PCEC member Tony Heron calls on members and guests to ask their questions or make comments about Expat living in Thailand during the PCEC’s Open Forum portion of their meeting.
Generally, a person with a disability is not educated. As they get older, they become a burden to their families with the only work they can find being that which no one else will do. They are paid a lower salary and have fewer rights. The Vocational Schools’ aim is to overcome this through teaching the skills and knowledge needed to allow them to find suitable employment where they will receive the same pay and the same rights as their able bodied colleagues.
During the presentation, Father Mike and Derek showed the following short videos:
“Welcome to Father Ray Foundation” – This video gave a general introduction to the various activities of the Foundation and can be seen by visiting this You Tube page: http://www.youtube .com/watch?v=vqpLjH6J KQc#t=36.
“Faces” – This video showed pictures of some smiling young boys while the narrator mentions that one at 3 yrs of age was thrown into a bonfire for making too much noise; another at 7 yrs of age tried to kill himself because he could no longer cope with the abuse he was receiving; and another witnessed the murder of his beloved grandmother by his own father. Derek said that to see these boys today, they are happy, thriving, and enjoying life.
“Three Brothers” – In introducing this video, Derek said that these three brothers were brought to the Children’s Home by their father. Their mother had died and the father could not earn enough money to care for them. When they arrived and their father told them this is where they would live, they didn’t understand (their father has since passed away). The video (English subtitles) shows the three boys as they explain their feelings toward living at the Children’s Home, their understanding now why their father brought them there, and their plans for the future.
“Meunchai” – This video shows the abilities of one individual who has no arms. While background music plays, it shows his dexterity in using his feet as others would use their hands and ends with the spoken comment, “I have a disability but I am not disabled.” Derek mentioned that they try to get jobs for all of their students; but it seemed no company wanted to hire someone with no arms. So, now he works for the Foundation as a teacher. Derek said that when new students start, they are surprised to find that their teacher also has a disability.
“Father Ray Center for Children with Special Needs” – Father Mike explained how they currently have a small facility; but they are in process of planning for the construction of a four story building to become a center for excellence. The video shows their plans and notes the cost will be over $1 million and operating costs will be about a quarter million dollars annually. Father Mike explained that the additional space will offer a better environment for teaching the children life skills and personal hygiene along with physiotherapy sessions to improve the muscle tone of children with severe disabilities. The Center will provide local families with the support to learn more about their child’s condition and the knowledge they need to improve the lives of a child with special needs (autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy or attention deficit disorder).
Wilson Fletcher greets new visitors with open arms at the PCEC regular Sunday meeting at the Amari Resort’s Tavern by the Sea Restaurant where all are welcome to attend to enjoy a good breakfast and listen to an interesting speaker on subjects of interest to Expats.
After the presentation, Master of Ceremonies Roy Albiston brought everyone up to date on upcoming events and called on Tony Heron to conduct the always informative Open Forum where questions are asked and answered about Expat living in Thailand, especially Pattaya.
For more information on the PCEC’s many activities, visit their website at www.pcecclub.org.