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.”