"When you think about how many children are left alone on the street or are born in prisons to drug-addicted mothers, and those who have been abused, you must open your arms and do something," says Dr. Cleopandh, who together with her husband Dr. Somsughi saw a chance to contribute and give some children a happy, safe childhood and an education.
An obstetrician, Dr. Cleopandh is not only a loving mother to her own children, but also a substitute mother to 48 abandoned children.
She was born to a Thai mother and a German father who came to Thailand to teach at Chulalongkorn University, while her mum worked at the US embassy. After her father's passing, her mother decided to move back to Bonn in Germany, where Dr. Cleopandh received her medical education.
For 20 years, she and her husband managed a successful practice in Germany before relocating to Bangkok. Since its launch in 1985, the Chaiyapruk Foundation has grown considerably and today consists of a three-building complex in Nakhon Nayok, north of Bangkok, where it provides the children with love and security. The kids regard the doctors as their parents.
The impact of the home on the children has been extremely positive. “It gave me happiness and taught me everything I know today. I have many sisters and brothers there,” said one, while another added: "Dr. Cleopandh
and her team took care of me like a mother and father.
Every Saturday an English teacher visits the center to conduct English lessons for the children. On Sunday an instructor comes to teach them computer programming in the newly built computer room.
Some of the children are studying at universities, returning to the home during weekends. Many have become such good students that they have been awarded scholarships. Currently there are 26 children at the center, the youngest being only six years old and the oldest 17.
As well as daily education the children take part in daily chores. They learn how to grow vegetables, Palm and Eucalyptus trees, as well as baking and cooking. They also learn how to respect and help each other, all of which makes them well-rounded for the future.
This many children takes a lot of financial support, most of which comes out of the doctors’ salaries and occasional donations. With Dr. Cleopandh's imminent retirement, the school needs a long-term funding plan and more donations in order to secure the its future. She would love to build a school at the property for children from kindergarten up through high school. But that also would require financial support and donations. The center is officially registered with the Thailand Government as a charity organization.
Active fundraising with long-term committed donors is needed to provide education and scholarships. Sponsorship of each newly admitted child is also possible. The foundation is also looking for volunteers to teach English and as well for general help with the children.