Background of Preecha.
In 1977 (about 31 years ago) I was just a Hmong boy living in the mountains of northern Thailand. At that time my brothers and I did not have an opportunity to go school because our parents were very poor. My parents had 8 sons and 1 daughter, of which I am the 4th. We are a big family and that's why my parents were unable to send us to school. However, when I was about 10 years old my father heard that the "World Vision of Thailand" was opening a shelter at Banmaisawan village in Sanpatong District, Chiang Mai, to provide an opportunity for Hmong boys to have a place to live and go to school. Hence, he sent me and my brothers to attend school there. While there, we were given the opportunity to know about Jesus Christ and we decided to accept Him as our Savior.
Experience in Orphanage Shelter.
After I finished high school (12th grade) I went for further studies at "Bangkok Bible College" in Bangkok. Afterwards, I accepted a full-time staff position at the "New Life Center". The New Life Center is a shelter for ethnic children in the north of Thailand providing free housing and schooling. My position there was Bible teacher and to look after children after school and weekends. I worked there for three years and then was married to Chuleeporn (Chu) who also became a full-time staff member in this shelter. Her major duties were to cook, look after the children’s health and also be a housekeeper. After my wife and I had worked there for an additional 3 years we resigned because of some differences in vision with some of our colleagues there.
Inspiration to work an Orphanage shelter.
About 20 years passed after we resigned from the New Life Center and even though we were no longer involved in that type of ministry, we never forgot about the many Hmong orphans and poor children living in the mountains in need of help. Our intention to work with an orphanage never left our minds even when we got involved in business for a number of years until the passing of our beloved son, "Piyawat", on the 10 March of 2008. It was then that we decided to return to the ministry of caring for orphans once again.
Let me share with you about Piyawat. "Piyawat" was our youngest son. He was born in 2006 with birth defects that caused him to be unable to breathe on his own. His lungs were weak which required continual dependency on a respirator to help him breathe. He was not even able to get out of bed and walk. He spent the remainder of his life in the hospital, never coming home. Every day we, along with our daughter and son went to visit him at the hospital which was a long drive from our home (about 20 kilometers). We would go to the hospital by motorcycle and minibus.
I remember one day going on business in another province and my wife, Chuleeporn, drove the motorcycle to visit Piyawat at the hospital. It was evening and she was so lonely. At that time the rain was very heavy. She got lost and called me weeping and so upset. In spite of this we never lost heart in taking care of our beloved son at the hospital because we loved him so much! Then on March 10th, 2008 God opened His arms and took our beloved Piyawat to Heaven. He was just 1 year, 7 months and 22 days old.
After Piyawat passed away it reminded my family and my 2 younger brothers, Manop and Wichai that life is very beautiful and every person is very valuable, especially the Hmong orphans in the mountains! They need help! They need to have a better life and better opportunities. For example, they need 3 meals a day, a suitable home, good health and most importantly, have a chance to go school.
Let me describe the circumstances of the Hmong in Thailand. The Hmong are one of the ethnic groups of Thailand. But most Thai people, even some Thai officers, see them only as hill tribe. "Hill tribe" in Thai is a word meaning "others" not "us". This meant that the Hmong are different from the Thai lowlanders leading to discrimination against them. That's why many Hmong boys and girls do not have the opportunity to go school and do not have a good quality of life like the Thai lowlanders. We are Hmong people and we are very proud of our ethnicity. We believe that if we can help any Hmong orphans have a better life then we feel we are doing something special for our dearest son and nephew, Piyawat
Thus after our dearest son Piyawat passed away we founded the "Piyawat Orphan House" on 4th June 2008. We believe that God will see our good intentions and bless our hands in this ministry. There are 24 Hmong orphans at the orphanage right now. We believed that it is God's will to use our lives to be a blessing to these orphans. We love them as our own children.
I have talked with some of the orphans about their lives before came to the orphanage. They told me that since he/she was born, he/she have never seen his/her father and mother. Hence he/she never had anyone to call "father" and "mother". I told the children that now that they are here, they can call me "father", Chuleeporn "mother" and Manop and Wichai "uncle". They said that now they are very happy and feel warmth in their hearts because now they have a father, mother and uncle like other children.
There are a couple of the orphans who told me that they never had enough food for 3 meals in a day because they lived with their grandmother who must work for wages in the fields from morning into the night. So some days they had no food for lunch and when night came they went to sleep with the dog in a corner of the house without a dinner. They probably felt safer by sleeping beside the dog since it's so frightening when it's dark.
I cannot explain the feeling but it is very heartening when you see the expression in their eyes when they have food every day, a place to live, and an opportunity to go school like Thai lowlanders and then have them call you 'father', 'mother', 'uncle' and 'aunt'.
Thank you God for my beloved son 'Piyawat' who taught me the meaning of life. No one forces us to do this work and we know that this job provides no income. I used to be a business man and see that money is very important while you are in this world. But now we welcome the opportunity to dedicate ourselves to be God's servants and we are willing and happy to do this work.
I hope that my effort in communicating these stories will inspire people to care for the orphans in need. Whatever you can do to support our ministry will be greatly appreciated!
Preecha Chaocharoen and family.