A New Home
Fon’s parents emigrated to Thailand from Myanmar in search of a better life. They were day laborers and didn’t earn very much.
“When I was 2 years old, I remembered I went out with my dad and when we returned to the house I saw my mom lying face down on the floor. I tried to wake her but she didn’t respond. At that time I didn’t realize what had happened. It wasn’t until I was in Grade 1, when I asked my dad about my mom and he told me that she had died. I was very sad and it hurt me to hear that,” Fon said.
After Fon’s mother passed away, her father worked less and his drinking increased. They moved to an old small hut in a rice field far from town. They didn’t have money to pay their bills.
“The trip [to school] was about two kilometers. I found it very difficult during the raining season. The dirt road turned to mud and it would spatter all over my skirt and socks. I arrived at school late every day and before going to the classroom I had to wash out the dirt and mud in my uniform. It was very embarrassing,” Fon whispered.
Her teachers could not bear to see Fon in this difficult situation. They contacted the Rom Yen Foundation for help. The foundation staff arranged for Fon to stay in a shelter when she was in Grade 3. Months later her father came to visit. She was thrilled to see him but was shocked to see his stomach was as big as a pregnant woman’s. She begged him to see a doctor. He was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis due to alcohol consumption.
A few years later the Rom Yen Foundation stopped running the shelter program. They contacted ADRA’s Keep Girls Safe (KGS) project and requested a transfer for Fon.
Fon tried to contact her father to let him know where she was but she couldn’t reach him. Shortly thereafter, the staff brought her the terrible news. Her father had passed away.
I thought “No, it can’t be true. My dad didn’t die. He can’t leave me like this. He’s the only family I’ve got. I have never known anything else. The world has become so cold and dark. I don’t have any family left. I am all alone but when I entered the shelter I felt like I have found a new family. The house keepers allow me to call them “father” and “mother.” I feel really great. I have a new family. I’ve learned many things such as cooking, embroidering, hand-crafting, farming and other fun activities. My favourite thing to do is to have a picnic on the shelter yard. We sit on the grass, hold hands and say grace together,” said Fon.
Keep Girls Safe is a shelter that provides a loving and secure place for vulnerable girls like Fon to stay. The shelter supports Fon’s studies in school and conducts useful activities for her every week to help her gain vocational skills.
“Without the shelter, I would be homeless and wouldn’t have an education. I don’t have family or relatives here. I don’t even know my relatives in Myanmar. I am very lucky to stay in ADRA,” Fon smiled.
“I would like to express my gratitude to the donors who support this project and who helped me. They gave me a chance to study. I truly believe education is very important for me, since I don’t have citizenship, family or money. If I didn’t have knowledge, my future would be doomed.” Fon is currently studying sewing in a vocational college.
ADRA Canada thanks the generous donors who are helping to keep girls like Fon safe. — Submmited by Arada Polawat (formerly ADRA Thailand’s Communications Officer)