Piyaporn is one of a million hill tribe people living in Thailand. She is one little girl living in one village in a remote corner of the world. But she hasn’t been forgotten. Every week at the Compassion center, Piyaporn’s tutor teaches her Thai, the language that will help propel her forward in the world. Her desk in a simple classroom is a symbol of her father’s dream that his children receive an education that was never available to him. And the well-used textbooks she opens to do her homework are the key to a world far beyond the forgotten hill tribes.
And when you ask Piyaporn what she wants to be when she grows up, she smiles. Her dream profession is one in which she can help people. It will take hours of study, years of medical school and tremendous amounts of dedication. But she believes that one day she will be respected and honored with a title.
She will be Dr. Piyaporn.
LIVING AND LEARNING
It’s not just the children and parents who have been denied an education in northern Thailand. Much of the Compassion staff working in these isolated villages also grew up there and faced the same hardships as the children they serve — they know what it’s like to be denied an education because of where they live, who their parents are and the language they speak.
That’s why pastors at five Compassion centers are working together to offer classes for the staffers. Natida, who works in Compassion’s Child Survival Program, which rescues at-risk mothers and their infants, says she understood the struggle these women faced — because she herself barely spoke Thai, having been raised by a grandmother who was part of the Karen tribe.
“I learn Thai so I can teach Thai,” she says. “I want to teach mothers the language so they can read and help their children.”
The dedication of the staff to learn is an inspiration to those they serve. Rather than simply telling the parents and students about the importance of an education, they are living it out.
“I encourage the staff as much as I can,” says Worawut, a Compassion Project Director. “And I support them. Every staff member of mine who wants to further his or her education to help our children, I will help them go to school again.”