“Once the toilet construction is done, villagers will no longer need to go to the woods to defecate,” said Pitakphong while speeding up sawing the wood to make the toilet roof structure. Today Pitakphong and his friends in the community development youth volunteer group from Mae Hong Son Area Development Programme (ADP), World Vision Foundation of Thailand (WVFT) are here to help build toilets for a little village on a hilltop in Mae Hong Son province.
In his 19 years of age, Pitakphong is well aware of the kindness he has been receiving from his sponsor since he was in primary school. Today he’s got a high vocational certificate from Nawamintrachinee Maehongson Industrial and Community Education College and is entering a real career world to generate income, build self-reliance and provide for his family with his own efforts and knowledge he has gained. “I don’t know how to repay my sponsor’s generosity. It’s priceless. I have had opportunity to attain higher education and gain knowledge, which serves as my pass to getting a decent job that can generate better income than my parents’ hired hand jobs in the field. Something that I might be able to do to pay back is to volunteer to help the project staff work to improve quality of life of the villagers who live in difficulties,” Pitakphong talked about how he’s become one of the volunteers who build the toilets for the distant village today.
“Before we started the toilet construction today, we had visited this village with the project staff for many times. We needed to talk to Pho Luang (the village headman). When he gave the permission, we would need to talk to the villagers to build understanding with them about why they must defecate in the toilets, not in the woods. After that, we explored the right spot to construct the community toilets and how to convey water from the mountain water system to supply clean water to the toilets. We had been to this village so many times. Every time the project staff would drive us here. They have also given us consultation and paid for the purchase of wood and other equipment, too.” This is the implementation steps Pitakphong and his friends in the youth volunteer group took, resulted by the accumulation of life skills and leadership skills from various training activities in which they have been participating yearly.
“We’re poor children. Because of the staff’s support, we’ve been enhanced to learn how to work as a team, express ourselves, be outspoken and listen to other people’s opinions. There’re various activities in which we can exert ourselves, put our ideas in action and show the power of the youth. I think this is so amazing. Without the kindness from the sponsor and the support from WVFT, I couldn’t imagine having such opportunities,” Pitakphong said on his break from the toilet construction.
“After we get the toilet construction done today, my friends and I will come back to the village again to see if the toilets need further adjustments or improvements. We’ll also help talk to the villagers on the maintenance plan as they are the village’s common facilities which will be used by many people,” Pitakphong spoke about the activities they’ve planned to do after the toilet construction is complete today.
“I’m so proud that an impoverished kid like me have an opportunity to make some contribution to benefiting other underprivileged people. These activities have given us spaces to express ourselves and show our confidence. We’ll exert our power in making our community better.” These were the very last statements left by Pitakphong, with the new toilets that are ready to serve the village.
From a little young boy raised by his impoverished family in the land called ‘City of Three Mists’, because of the kindness poured down from his sponsor through World Vision Foundation of Thailand’s Sponsorship Programme, Pitakphong has been lifted out of hardships and transformed towards well-being. Today, the little poor boy has grown up to become a young man who is well-equipped with knowledge, life skills and volunteer spirit which will serve as his key development assets to lead him on a secure path. Pitakphong will join the cohort of the new generation which will play an important role to empower the community and the nation in the future.