Fellow Since 1991
Foundation for Better Life of Children
This profile was prepared when Wallop Tangkanurak was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1991.
The New Idea
The increasing numbers of deeply troubled children, many surviving on the streets, is a growing problem in urban and rural Thai society. It is one of the negative impacts of rapid urbanization, breakneck economic growth, and the increasing pressures on the "have nots" in the culture to survive many changes which are out of the control. Khru Yui has identified the casualties of this process, the children who have been abused, abandoned, orphaned, or literally thrown away, as the focus of his life's work. He has designed a range of creative programs to address the immediate needs of these disenfranchised, hurt children. He has established a home for battered, raped and abandoned children. He has founded a home for runaways in transition. He has a shelter home for children involved in legal disputes. He started a temporary school around construction workers' housing for the 150 children of the workers. He also launched a "mobile education car" which circulates among six areas with construction worker's housing and gives tutoring to the children at nighttime. He has "sidewalk teachers" reaching out and providing counselling to street children in 12 areas of Bangkok. He has developed a mode residence next to a rural Buddhist wat for homeless rural youngsters, drawing the monks and through them the broader village society into his work. In each of these programs the underlying organizing strategy is the same. Treat the children with respect. Build a trusting relationship with them. Offer them some hope for a better life than the one on the streets. Provide them with a supervised, safe environment from which they can struggle to regain some sort of normal life. Each of the institutions Khru Yui has established is a demonstration of how Thai society, applying these basic principals, could, effectively and economically, reach out to and help these young people. His task now is to help his society understand both the challenge confronting it and these practical ways of responding. He's launching a major awareness-building program both for the general public and for those with deeper involvement, but as volunteers or as policy-makers. He tries to expose those with a substantial interest directly to the children early on through a series of novel on-site programs. He's also trying to build up a network of governmental and non-governmental organizations to work together towards policy changes. Khru Yui is also a pioneer among Thai citizen social change organizations in terms of building a broad base of individual and small group financial and volunteer support. Having successfully demonstrated how to do this for his own organization, he's beginning to help several others including his Ashoka colleague Teunjai Deetes learn his techniqes.