Helping the Poor and Socially Disadvantaged in 'Magnificent Thailand'

By Paul Sinclair (One World One People) 30/06/02

G'Day all you champions,

Welcome to a special edition series from Thailand. Wow! What a place my very good friends! What a place indeed! I'm in Bangkok at the moment, so without further delay, stand back as we add the green curry and vegetables to the rice and move the ice cold beer just a little closer, in case of any emergencies.

I'm loving this place, the Thai people are so friendly and they are some of the most laid back people I've ever met. In the Thai culture it is even considered a major loss of face and a major embarrassment

Pra Payom showing a group of volunteers
around the grounds of Wat Suan Kaew
Wat Suan Kaew Foundation

to yourself to lose you temper with someone. That's how laid back they are. (Not that I think they could be bothered going to all the effort of losing their tempers anyway). They are predominately Buddhist and I've always found Buddhists to be such friendly people.

Anyway the main reason I'm here is to visit Wat Suan Kaew Foundation, a sprawling community for the underprivileged Thai people. This amazing place is the result of one very special Buddhist Monk's love for the poorest of the poor. His name is Pra Payom and he is also known affectionately by the people of Wat Suan Kaew as "One's father" and by others as 'the monk who cares for the world'. Described as an aggressive community developer monk, Pra Payom was bought up in poverty and despite now being one of Thailand's most famous, respected and revered monks, he has never forgotten his origins and his work for the poor. He constantly pays respect to others and their humanity, no matter who they are or what background they come from.

Consequently Wat Suan Kaew is home to poor students from the countryside, abandoned elderly people, orphans, ex - prisoners, ex- prostitutes, ex- drug addicts, mentally and physically disabled people to name a few. He teaches them to be proud of themselves and provides them with equal opportunities to make a living by giving them kindness and compassion.

I've written in the past about what might be done to help improve the lives of the poorest of the poor around the world, but I have a feeling this champion really has gone to town on the whole subject. He has apparently set up about fourteen projects to help different people in need so its back to school for me and I can't wait! I'm going to volunteer my services there in whatever way I can help. I start on Tuesday, because there will be someone there that day who can speak english and organise some work for me.

I have to be honest though, patience not being one of my strongest points, I was so keen so see Pra Payom's work that I snuck in a little visit to Wat Suan Kaew yesterday and my friends what a champion, champion, place! It was so meant to be! Even though the local tourist office knew nothing of the place or how to get there, I got them to write Wat Suan Kaew and its address in Thai for me. Then I set out on a riverboat as far up the river as I could get, into the next province. Then I just jumped on the first bus that got my attention, showed them the note and immediately got the nod. It dropped me way out in the middle of the countryside, directly in front of Wat Suan Kaew, meant to be or what! The whole journey took me a couple of hours and cost about 30 pence. Magnificent!

Till next time, take care all you champions.



Click here to view images from Wat Suan Kaew, Thailand


Other articles in the series:

Glorious Thailand, Part 2, The Splenderous Work of a Little Monk, 15 July 2002

Glorious Thailand, Part 3, Helping Monks with English Practice, 28 July 2002

Glorious Thailand, Part 4, Helping Monks Care for AIDS Sufferers, 14 August 2002

Glorious Thailand, Part 5, Family: The Real Meaning of Being Human, 21 October 2002

If you are interested in volunteering at Wat Suan Kaew they can be contacted through:

www.suankaew.org

or

Wat Suan Kaew Bang-Yai District,
Bang-Lane Sub-District,
Nonthaburi Province 11140
Thailand

Tel : +66(0)-2921-5603-4 Ext. 118 ; 0-18509796
Fax : +66(0)-2595-1222

Volunteers at Wat Suan Kaew come
from all over the world.
Wat Suan Kaew Foundation

One World One People, 24 January 2002
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