Left to right, Pisamai, Sue, Governor Samartkit, Jack, Walai, Ruut.
Last Thursday was visiting day. Sue, myself, Walai (our managing director), Pisamai (bookkeeper and office manager) and Ruut (construction coordinator and sometime driver) made the rounds in Buriram city, the provincial capital.
Our first stop was Khun Paiwaan, the director of social services for the province. She previously was a member of our foundation’s board for a couple of years to help us get started. She is now very helpful in our dealings with her and other agencies. We caught her between two speaking engagements so this meeting was short, but it had been awhile since Sue and I had seen her so it was good to see her again.
Khun Thanee Samartkit is the new provincial governor this year. A friend of Ruut is on his staff, so Ruut called him to see if we might stop by. No problem, Khun Samartkit was happy to see us. We discussed some of the recent “hot button” social problems in the province, one being the accelerating teenage pregnancy rate. He emphasized doing all that we can to keep mothers and their children together.
He has a point there. One factor of an NGO’s “success” can be how many children it has under its roof. This has on some occasions led a mother to give up her children simply because their education or housing might be better the institution. We’ll take kids if they are getting no housing, parenting or education at all, but just improving these things is no reason to take a child. A mother who loves her child is worth a whole boatload of that stuff.
The province is currently working new ways to support these young mothers so they can keep their children and we intend to participate in that effort. Better yet we’ll be working on prevention of teen pregnancies to the extent that is possible. It’s a pretty difficult problem, as many of us in the U.S. know.
If a child is in an abusive situation, only the governor has the authority to remove that child from its family to another guardian, whether that be a government agency, individual or our foundation. So if we something we feel is bad enough, he or his representative will be who we will contact.
Our final visit was to the Buriram shelter. We work closely with them and sometimes take children from them. In fact, we have a few right now. While they operate for the whole province, they do not handle long term residents, whereas we can.
It was a productive day of meetings, and we got back early afternoon in time for Sue to play language games with our girls, but that is another story.