Helping others to help society
Over the past 34 years since its inauguration, the Bangkok Post Foundation has awarded 2,676 scholarships, sponsoring the education of more than 600 underprivileged students across the nation.
The recipients, who were granted funding to cover their academic needs until they have received the highest education, have included students from poor families, those living in remote communities, the handicapped and orphans.
To date, 216 recipients have graduated. Among those graduating with a university degree, one has a PhD, two have master’s degrees and 94 have bachelor’s degrees.
There are also 66 students graduating with vocational certificate, 37 with high school diplomas and 21 with middle school diplomas.
Here are some stories of life success from the Bangkok Post Foundation’s scholarship alumni.
- Miss Ampika Pukam
- Mr Anusorn Pinsuwan
- Dr Kalyakorn Wongrak
- Mr Khatawut Wisreethippakorn
- Mr Nattapum Saengprasit
- Mr Saharat Kluekij
- Mr Surasit Ngamjit
- Mr Thundron Parkminakom
- Dr Warin Yuyangket
- Mr Waroot Jaipin
Ampika Pukam: Nursing her community
Ampika Pukam’s childhood taught her the virtues of hard work and self-sacrifice.
Born in the predominantly hill tribe-populated district of Khun Yuam in Mae Hong Son province, she watched her father struggle in the fields for 100 baht a day while her mother helped him tend to crops of rice, sesame, corn and red bean for 80 baht.
His bargaining power was limited by his ancestry in Shan state of Myanmar and the consequent lack of Thai identity papers. Yet he was determined that his daughter would get a good education and enrolled her at Ban Mok Jam Pae School. Ampika proved to be a promising student and the Bangkok Post Foundation singled her out for a scholarship.
Ampika set her sights on becoming a nurse. When she was in secondary school, her parents separated and soon after that, her father died. Her mother sought better paying work in Chiang Mai province. Meanwhile, Ampika went to live with her grandparents in Khun Yuam district.
Her hard work at school paid off and in 2011 Ampika was accepted at the Borom Rajchonni Nursing College in Chiang Mai. At the age of 22 Ampika gained a bachelor’s degree in Nursing Science and is now a qualified registered nurse.
She says the funding provided by the Bangkok Post Foundation has helped sustain her for the past 15 years.
“I work closely with the community. It is important to learn about them and undersatnd their way of life”
“It was the best thing that could have happened in the life of a hill-tribe girl like me. I thought I would not have an opportunity for a higher education.”
Ampika is now attached to the Ban Mae La Na Health Promotion Hospital. It is located in mountainous countryside covering 11 districts and three remote villages with a population of over 5,000 hill-tribe people who trace their origins to Shan state (Thai Yai), Hmong, Muser (Lahu), Yao, Karen and Akha.
“I work closely with the community. It is important to learn about them and understand their way of life. They are used to traditional methods of medical treatment and I help them become familiar with current health and nursing principles,” says Ampika.
“I do hope the Bangkok Post Foundation continues to give opportunities to needy students in this developing part of the country. This would be a great blessing for them. I would encourage local children to realise just how important education is these days.”
Thundron Parkminakom: Lofty medical ambitions
Most children have happy childhoods. But for Thundron Parkminakom and his older half-brother, growing up was an ordeal.
Their parents abandoned them when Thundron was 10, leaving the boys to take care of themselves in a remote village in Si Sa Ket province. Unlike others in a similar plight, however, they resisted the impulse to turn to drugs. With his strong willpower and determination to overcome adversity, he finally put his unhappy childhood behind him and began to turn his life around.
His wish was to study in a specialist field in order to secure his career path. His academic efforts were good enough for him to study medicine. But such courses are expensive and a lack of financial support put the medical profession out of his reach.
Fortunately there was an alternative and while he would never become a doctor, he could become a registered nurse. To that end, he enrolled in a course to become a registered nurse at Khon Kaen University.
But university courses are very costly and he soon found himself trying to acquire financial support through a government loan scheme.
In 2011, through Khon Kaen University, Thundron was selected for a Bangkok Post Foundation scholarship. He graduated and became a registered nurse. Now, at the age of 24, he is working in the Monks’ Medical Ward of Sri Nakarin Khon Kaen Hospital.
“I am most grateful to the Bangkok Post Foundation,” he says. He stressed that it was not just the funding that he appreciated. He also found the attention, concern, interest in his academic achievements, recommendations and general follow-up to be valuable.
“I felt as though I suddenly had parental support,” he says.
“Being able to take care of monks is a religious blessing. Once the monks are able to return to their temples, they can perform their Buddhist duties”
When asked why he had opted to work at the Monks’ Medical Ward, Thundron says: “Being able to take care of monks is a religious blessing. Once the monks are well taken care of and able to return to their temples, they can perform their Buddhist duties. Thailand is a Buddhist country and monks, through their sermons and actions, encourage people to behave well and adopt good causes”.
The Bangkok Post Foundation provides scholarships to the less fortunate in society without asking for anything in return, he says. He added that he would like to do the same and give something back to society by providing voluntary nursing care to monks in remote parts of the Northeast.
Life is full of responsibilities. Thundron is now taking care of his “aunt mother” who has returned from Pattaya. He also cares for his older half-brother who is suffering from drug addiction and whose engineering studies ended when he was expelled during his second year at university.
Thundron is proof that a troubled childhood is not a barrier to eventual success.
Nattapum Saengprasit: A vision of self-motivation
“Education is the door to opportunity. If I did not have a bachelor’s degree I wouldn’t be able to reach this point,” says Nattapum Saengprasit, who is congenitally blind and has been working at Advance Info Services’ call centre for over seven years.
Nattapum professionally communicates with customers on the phone. He provides services like suggesting and helping customers to change mobile packages.
“Even though I’m a disabled, I’m expected to maintain the company’s standards with no exception,” he says.
Nattapum, who gained second-class honours in Education from Chiang Mai University, says he couldn’t have come this far without the scholarship from the Bangkok Post Foundation.
“This scholarship was the only opportunity I had.”
From primary to high school, Nattapum always went to state-run schools in Chiang Mai province, his hometown. Tuition fees had never been a problem, unlike university.
“I’m so glad I got accepted into the university but my family’s finances were not good enough to support me,” says Nattapum, who lived with single mother and was brought up by his grandparents. “Not to mention the cost of living for people with disabilities is three times higher than normal people.”
Nattapum needed help from his friends to read through all the books, or hire someone to read and record it. In order to make an A4 sheet of braille cost up to 30 baht.
His first year at university was supported by his school teacher and whenever he had a free time, Nattapum went to Bangkok to earn extra money selling lottery tickets.
With the help of his advisor, Nattapum received a 40,000-baht scholarship from the Bangkok Post Foundation until he finished university.
“I always look at obstacles as self-motivation. I need to ask myself whether or not I’ve tried hard enough”
“I’m so delighted I received it. I’ve never worried about lessons,” he says. “If I hadn’t received the scholarship, I would end up being a beggar or a lottery ticket seller.
“I would like to express my gratitude to the foundation and all those who gave me a chance to stand on my own,” he says.
The grant was given to him without binding conditions. But the feeling of owing society always remains in his mind.
“I know what it’s like to be a receiver so I want to pass something on to society,” he says. “Every year, there is special training for the visually impaired. I always volunteer to teach them computing and technology.”
“I always look at obstacles as self-motivation.
I need to ask myself whether or not I’ve tried hard enough.”
Waroot Jaipin: Son of the good earth
Orphaned since he was in primary class 5, Waroot went on to become one of the first Bangkok Post Foundation scholars to embark on a postgraduate course, successfully completing a master’s degree at Chiang Mai University.
Coming from a farming family, Waroot studied at the Faculty of Agriculture. He now works for the Saha Kan Kaset company as a sales promotion officer, offering advice to farming cooperatives on the fertiliser and pesticide that best meets their requirements.
“Thai farmers tend to follow each other. If they hear that farmers in one area enjoy success with a particular type of fertiliser they will follow suit, not taking into account the fact that a fertiliser that’s good for sandy soil may not be suitable for clay soil. My job is to explain the differences to them and to suggest the best type of fertiliser for their needs,” he says.
Speaking about farmers’ penchant for chemical fertilisers, Waroot explains that the advantage of chemical fertilisers is that they yield quick results, although they may also lead to a hardening of the soil over time.
An organic fertiliser, on the other hand, is slower but does not harden the soil. The key, he says, is to mix the fertilisers. An organic fertiliser yields slower results but is cheaper.
Moreover, organic fertilisers can be produced in Thailand but chemical fertilisers are wholly imported since the raw materials are not available in Thailand.
“Chemical fertilisers were introduced only three to four decades ago because the government wanted to see improved yields. Organic fertilisers may not have the full complement of essential ingredients, but are less harmful in the long term.”
Waroot is now developing a plot of land in his native Chiang Mai province, growing a mixed crop and experimenting with out-of-season lime plants.
“In that area most people have single-crop orchards. I want to show local people that if we grow a mixed crop, whatever we produce won’t flood the market and prices won’t be depressed.”
Waroot now leads a comfortable life. He has a company car for his frequent journeys to various parts of the North that are a regular part of his job. His brother is a non-commissioned officer in the army while his younger sister is in the third year of a hotel and tourism course at Chiang Mai Rajabhat University.
“I want to show local people that if we grow a mixed crop, whatever we produce won’t flood the market and prices won’t be depressed”
“I would like to thank the Foundation for giving an ordinary country boy like me the opportunity to study and the chance to find a good job.”
Saharat Kluekij: A passion for farming
After graduating from the Faculty of Fisheries, Kasetsart University in mid-2015, Saharath Kuakul, 23, landed a job as an environmental officer with CK Power Plc, a subsidiary of CH Karnchang Plc, which is working with the Laotian government to build the Xayaburi hydropower dam. His work in the neighbouring country focuses on fish migration in the Mekong river.
Saharath received the scholarship when he was in Mathayom 1 at Samut Sakhon Wittayalai School in Samut Sakhon province.
“I was very lucky. Otherwise, my life would have been much, much harder,” he says.
His father died when he was only seven. His mother was forced to leave her factory job because of health problems. He was fortunate to have a stepfather who supported his education.
This kind man had to support four children, grandparents and other relatives. He had to work very hard before deciding to work in Vietnam to support his extended family. All this has made Saharath more determined to study hard so that he could help his stepfather take care of the family.
Being admitted to a prestigious state high school in the province was also a life-changing time for him. “It made my life goal much clearer. Had I not been admitted to study there, I would have had to study in a community school. My life would have been much different.”
Saharath is the only student from Tamnop Praew School in his village to win a seat at the leading state high school in Samut Sakhon. Being a diligent student, he finally won a seat at Kasetsart University.
During school days, Sararath was also taught to grow vegetables, raise fish and make fertiliser, which made him want to become a farmer when he grew up. It was why he wanted to study at Kasetsart University, which focuses on agriculture. When he was a third-year student, he trained in the Philippines for four months, gaining more skills in prawn and fish farming.
After graduation, Saharath helped his parents pay for his siblings’ tuition fees and other family expenses. He wanted his stepfather to return to Thailand. But that meant less family income, which is why he decided to work overseas instead.
Saharath still has to support another young sibling’s education for another three years. After that, he plans to buy a piece of land to grow vegetables. His other plan is to get organised with his friends to share new farming techniques with other farmers.
“I want to give back to society. I want to see other disadvantaged youngsters get the same opportunities I had”
“I want to give back to society,” he says. “I want to see other disadvantaged youngsters get the same opportunities I had.”
Apart from offering computer training to students at Tamnop Praew School, he also wants to share the love of farming and appreciation of a self-sufficient lifestyle with them.
“I’m deeply grateful to the Bangkok Post Foundation, not only for the scholarship but also for the good advice and moral support throughout the years until I finished my degree.”
Surasit Ngamjit: Valuable life lessons
“I am now a Thai language teacher at Bangkok Wittaya Mooniti School, but I am due to be transferred to a new school on Nov 11 as a full-fledged civil servant. Once I have worked the required number of years I will be able to transfer back to my home town which is what I want to do.
People may wonder why I chose to teach Thai since everyone can speak Thai, but it is important to speak, read and write Thai correctly.
I am from Ranong, from a large family with nine children. I am the eighth and I started working to help the family since I was in Prathom 6, all the way till I finished Mathayom 6. Because of the large family, my parents could not afford to educate us higher than Mathayom 3. Nevertheless, all my siblings managed to achieve at least a diploma.
I worked in Bangkok for a year and enrolled at Ramkamhaeng University in 2009.
I was about 16 at the time of the tsunami. My village was greatly affected by the devastation and my school closed down for almost a month.
The Bangkok Post Foundation came to help the school and officials went to my house through their recommendation. My career advisor told me that now that I have received this opportunity I should pay attention to my studies to repay the foundation for its good intentions.
I received help from the foundation from Mathayom 4 to 6, after which I had no more funds to study and moved to Bangkok to work in a factory. I took a chance and wrote to the foundation to ask whether I might be considered for a further scholarship, giving my reasons.
To my delight the foundation agreed.
Without the scholarship I may not have completed my studies at all, or taken longer to complete them.
As soon as I become a civil servant teacher I plan to pursue a master’s degree. We are still behind many countries in our education and I would like to help later generations to be equal to developed nations.
If I come across children in the same position as I used to be in I will immediately reach out to them. I fully understand how they feel. As a teacher I will make it my job to know each and every one of my students, to know their names, their family and financial background and adjust my teaching to suit the children.
“We are still behind many countries in our education and I would like to help the later generation to be equal to developed nations”
My principle as a teacher is to be kind and gentle and pay close attention to the students. Education will help lead students along a proper path, with constructive ideas to develop themselves for the future. Good children will lead to a good society and a civilised country.
Today I am proud to have played my part as a teacher, and soon to become a full-fledged civil servant teacher. I hope to be able to continue to develop myself as much as possible.”
Anusorn Pinsuwan: From model student to engineer
Anusorn Pinsuwan, a former Bangkok Post Foundation scholarship student, is now an engineer at the Provincial Waterworks Authority in Prachuap Khiri Khan province.
“Everyone has a dream. My dream was to pursue higher studies, gain a bachelor’s degree, then find a secure job and be able to support my parents when they are old,” says Anusorn.
He received the scholarship from the Bangkok Post Foundation when he was 18, when he enrolled at the Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna (Tak campus). His father, a temporary worker at Lan Sang National Park, earned about 8,000 baht a month. He was already struggling to support two children’s education. Anusorn took work at his uncle’s bicycle repair shop so he could pursue his higher studies.
He was chosen by the foundation because he showed determination to study, working to help his parents, who also wanted him to get the best education he could.
After finishing certificate level education, he pursued his studies at the Faculty of Engineering, Srinakharinwirot University, Prasarnmit campus. He joined a special programme which ran on weekends so he could work as a foreman for a housing estate company during the week days. After one year, he enrolled at King Mongkut’s University of Technology North Bangkok and finished with second-class honours, which brought much pride to his family.
“Studying at King Mongkut’s, you need to be constantly diligent and eager to learn new things. Most students came from Bangkok so they had a firmer foundation than me, a country boy. I solved this problem by tutoring my friends,” he says.
Anusorn became a model student. He was also the first scholarship recipient from Tak province to gain a bachelor’s degree.
“To fulfil the goals of the foundation, I am ready to offer my expertise by giving consultation on engineering and construction”
After graduation, he worked for two private companies before being drafted into the military. During one year as a conscript, he did construction and repair work for the army camp.
After his military stint he was hired as a civil engineer by the Tambon Organisation Administration in Bang Sai district, Ayutthaya province. After four years, he passed the examination to become an engineer at the Provincial Waterworks Authority.
Working in a small organisation such as the TAO and a big state enterprise like the PWA is completely different, he says. He needs to be constantly active and creative while combining new knowledge with past experience to excel in his new work.
“I’d like to thank the foundation. Without their support I would not be able to come to this point in my life.”
“To fulfil the goals of the foundation, I am ready to offer my expertise by giving consultation on engineering and construction.”
Warin Yuyangket: Healing the poor
“We can’t choose how we are born. But we can choose to work harder and to improve ourselves. We should set our aim in life and act upon it. Whenever we are tired and discouraged we should think of our target in life and set upon it with determination,” says Dr Warin Yuyangate.
Coming from a humble family in Phitsanulok’s Phrom Phiram district, Dr Warin, or Kaek as she is known to her friends, faced a dilemma when she won a place in medical school: her family could never afford to pay the high fees of the medical course.
She decided to opt instead for a nursing career which carried with it a full scholarship. Although she would lose the opportunity to become a doctor, this would ease the financial burden on her family.
But then the Bangkok Post Foundation heard about her case and stepped in to help. The prospect of what lay ahead filled her with fear. She had never left home before would have to adjust herself greatly. She also realised that she would be competing with students from privileged backgrounds.
“But then I thought that there were things that I have to do, for my parents, for my relatives and for other people. These thoughts provided the motivation to fight on. My parents are now happy; they no longer have to toil hard ever since I became a doctor.”
After graduation, Dr Warin worked for three years as an intern at a 30-bed hospital in Bang Rakam district of Phitsanulok province, then did a three-year specialist course in neurosurgery at Chulalongkorn Hospital in Bangkok.
“As an intern I was doing very basic work, diagnosing simple cases while more complicated cases had to be referred to larger hospitals.
“I also realised what hard work the neurosurgeons had to do. There were only two of them in Phitsanulok and the workload was pretty heavy.”
The Phitsanulok neurosurgery team is now up to five and the workload has eased somewhat. This allows Dr Warin to spend some of her time teaching medical students.
Dr Warin has a message for present and future scholarship winners: “They should persevere in the face of hardship. They should adhere to the target they have set themselves and once they have achieved their goals they should repay the community where they came from.”
“It is also much more satisfying to cure poor people using the 30-baht scheme rather than rich people”
Asked whether she has thought of transferring to Bangkok, Dr Warin was quite emphatic:
“Things have fallen into place. When I think of how I began with zero I am satisfied with how things are at present. Even though we are not as rich as some others, we are comfortable. Besides, my parents are from Phitsanulok so I do not plan to move elsewhere.
It is also much more satisfying to cure poor people using the 30-baht scheme rather than rich people.”
“The aim of the foundation is good. It gives an opportunity to poor people who may wish to help society but are short of funds. It allows them to use their knowledge to repay society.”