On September 8, 2011, The Thai Ministry of Social Development and Welfare, together with the Street Children’s Network of Bangkok, honored three Mercy social workers at an awards ceremony held at the Siam Society in Bangkok.
These social workers, whose stories we have outlined below, have demonstrated an exceptional level of caring in the protection of poor children. They represent everything we stand for, especially in their love for the poorest of the poor, and we are incredibly proud of them.
Khun Kittisuk Piyakul (Phong)– Mercy Social Worker and House Dad
When Kittisuk was just seven years old, his parents were desperate. Without money to care for or feed their son, they took Kittisuk to the Hualampong train station in Bangkok, told him to wait, and then left him alone in the hope that a kind adult would eventually find and protect him. Days passed. Then weeks and months. He became a “train station” street kid,” and he was living by begging for scraps and spare change when a Mercy social worker found him and persuaded Kittisuk to join our family.
After completing his secondary education and reaching young adulthood, Kittisuk stayed with our family at Mercy Centre and received training as a drug addiction counselor for street children. When we opened our home for boys on a plot of farmland near the new airport, Kittisuk became a House Dad and began studying agriculture. Today he helps our boys plant, grow and harvest our rice, fruit, and vegetable crops. Most importantly, he is a caring House Dad. He knows what our boys have gone through on the streets. They listen to him. They trust him. Kittisuk is their guide, mentor, uncle, and best friend.
Khun Watecharapol Changlech (Mos) – Mercy Hospice and Homecare Social Worker
Watecharapol, like Kittisuk, came to Mercy Centre by way of the streets. He was a teenage street kid, helpless, alone and far too gentle, meek, and sickly to survive for long. Adults and street children continuously took advantage of him until the day a Catholic Brother found Kittisuk sleeping in front of a seedy bar and guided him to Mercy Centre.
Here at Mercy Centre, Watecharpol has flourished. His gentle nature – nearly always a fatal weakness on the streets – is now his greatest strength. Today he tends to the patients in our AIDS hospice and visits patients in their homes. In everything he does for our patients, he is kind, soothing, reassuring, and caring. His gentleness now saves lives.
Khun Narisaraporn Asipong (Kru Nang) – Mercy Street Social Worker
The street children of Bangkok call Narisaraporn an angel, and they are surely not far from the truth. She looks after the most vulnerable children on the streets in angelic ways: she provides food and clothes for her children; takes them to doctors when they are ill; teaches them life-skills; enrolls them in schools; works with their families whenever possible; and enlists the support of temples, churches, mosques, and local government ministries. She will do whatever it takes to make her children safer and happier. It helps that she is fluent in Thai, Lao and Kmer, but what helps most is her beautiful heart.
Someone told her street children by the Rama III Bridge that she was to receive an award at the Siam Society. They banded together and came to the Siam Society ceremony, each with a single red rose to give honor to their beloved Narisaraporn – their mom, teacher, and friend for life.
Photos – Top to bottom: i) Mercy Staff with Bangkok Street Children, ii) Mercy House Dad, Kittisuk, receives award, iii) Watecharapol with Jutima Jongjet, the director of Mercy’s HIV/AIDS Programs, and iv) Narisaraporn with Executive Director Usanee Janngeon