Money pours in for homeless minibus driver and son

The happy 10-year-old and his grateful father during the media briefing in Hat Yai, Songkhla, about the donations. (Photo by Aswin Pakkawan)
The happy 10-year-old and his grateful father during the media briefing in Hat Yai, Songkhla, about the donations. (Photo by Aswin Pakkawan)

SONGKHLA: Runroj Thiprat, 62, and his 10-year-old son have been living in the rented minibus he drives for almost a year because he could not earn enough - but all that is about to change.

The poor man has been alone with his son Kampanart, or Nong Parn, since his wife left when the child was three. 

Mr Rungroj provided a minibus service in downtown Hat Yai and earned 200-300 baht a day. Of this, 120 baht went to meet the daily charge for using the vehicle, and the rest on daily expenses and school costs for his son.

Sometimes the minibus, known as a "tuk-tuk" in the South, broke down and he could not even meet the daily rental. There was never enough money.

Mr Rungroj eventually realised he had no choice but to use the minibus as their shelter. He could not afford a room.

He and his son used the facilities at a petrol station toilet. Every morning, Nong Parn went to help monks on their alms round before going to school. The monks gave the boy food.

Then a kind samaritan, learning of their plight, stepped in. Panu Pitakpao, the director of a learning centre in Hat Yai, set up a fund for public donations to help them, and the money started rolling in.

Mr Panu and two of the boy's teachers on Tuesday made public the amount of the donations and how the money was to be managed.

Mr Panu said donations paid into two bank accounts over the past six days stood at 1.34 million baht. One donor had even offered to donate a block of land in Bang Klam district for the family to build a house, Mr Panu said. 

The donated money would be used to cover the rent of a house and to purchase a second-hand minibus for Mr Rungroj so he could earn a better living. The remaining money would be an education fund for the boy.

Mr Rungroj burst into tears as he expressed his gratitude to all donors. He had never thought that he and his son would be given a second chance in life.

He would continue driving a minibus to support his son and vowed to do good things to repay the  generosity of the donors

Nong Parn also thanked all donors for their help. The 10-year-old looked cheerful and happy.

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  • alms: food, money, and other items that are given to Buddhist monks; money, clothes and food that are given to poor people - ของทำบุญ ของบริจาค
  • broke down: in the past, when something breaks and stops working -
  • donation: money or goods that you give to an organisation, especially one that helps people - เงินหรือสิ่งของบริจาค
  • donor (noun): a person who gives money or goods to an organisation, especially one that helps people - ผู้บริจาค
  • expenses: money spent in doing a particular job, or for a particular purpose - ค่าใช้จ่าย
  • generosity: kindness, especially in giving things to people - ความกรุณา
  • gratitude: a feeling of being grateful to someone because they have given you something or have done something for you - ความรู้สึกขอบคุณ
  • plight: an unpleasant condition, especially a serious, sad or difficult one - สภาพเลวร้าย
  • samaritan (noun): a person who gives help and sympathy to people who need it - ผู้มีจิตใจเมตตากรุณา
  • second-hand (adjective): not new; owned by somebody else before - ใช้แล้ว, มือสอง
  • shelter: a place where people are protected from danger or bad weather; a temporary place to stay - ที่หลบภัย  ที่พักชั่วคราว
  • vow: to make a formal and serious promise to do something or to promise what you say is true - สาบาน, ปฏิญาณ
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