Baan Dek Dee is one of many foundations in the region that helps support rural orphan children. The region has so many orphan homes as it has been ravished by HIV and Aids, leading to some 80,000 orphans – 35% of the total orphan population in Thailand - many foundations are set-up out of sheer necessity.
Manop however has a unique take on how an orphanage should be managed and has an idea to help keep young, orphan children on the straight and narrow into their adult life.
Along with HIV and Aids, natural disasters and civil fighting has caused a rise in child orphans in Thailand. It is also not uncommon for children in the region to be taken in simply from being from impoverished backgrounds and broken homes. These situations have led to some bad press – like this Daily Mail article.
It should be noted that in Thailand and other nations in SEA, there are weaker social constructs than ones in many Western nations. We have many luxuries that we take for granted – and show naivety to the social dynamics that can be so different from our own.
The term “real” orphan is somewhat arbitrary in a context where children WILL go hungry, WILL go without education, WILL go without healthcare. This is not to say there is not unscrupulous, ‘charity’ organizations, but it should be remembered than one be open-minded when reading about a culture which is not your own.
From the start, it has been Manop’s desire to build a unique project, that didn’t have what he perceived as failings of the current system.
With Baan Dek Dee he wanted to create a project that could, in time, sustain itself and provide a cycle of opportunity for future children. He wanted, in the most part, to keep his children away from the types of temptations that lead them astray. Adults from orphan backgrounds have a high propensity to be involved with crime and often end up in homeless or in jail.
Manop, an orphan himself, understands the difficulties that orphan’s face growing up. He noticed difficulties both in his experience and through managing his own foundation especially with young males. He felt the current system needed to change.
Difficulties around this age are not uncommon, all over the world, no matter the situation. The problem for orphans is compounded by a system where they are segregated by age and gender and separated from their adopted families. These children don’t only lose their real families but their adopted families once they hit the age of 13 or 14.
Youthful teenage years are complicated enough, without being an orphan in Thailand who has already one family unit taken from them. Manop thinks this is the key reason why so many children from orphanages turn to crime and end up homeless in their later years.
In order to tackle this Manop has a unique concept, he wants to take in children when they are young; educate them, feed them and clothe them all the way through to completion of university or working age.
Manop thinks that if he can help educate and develop a cycle of children the foundation and its children will continue to flourish. This of course makes a lot of sense, keeping the family structure together is important, especially in the system that Manop has created.
If young and impressionable and children are removed from their own family construct it is not hard to understand how they would be laid a stray by their older peers who may have not come from the same organizational structure.