Sumethaya “Mae (Mother) May” Prompat is the mother of ten non-biological children. She has been working in the SOS Children Village for the last three years, and despite her only being a member of staff, she has sacrificed and given just as much as any mother would.
“Working to take care of the people around me has been my dream job since the beginning,” said Ms Sumethaya.
“I had two choices, either taking care of the elderly or children. But when I had the opportunity to visit the SOS village in Had Yai, Songkhla, my hometown, I decided to work for them. I saw the mothers and I wanted to be involved and be someone who takes care of these children and see them grow up and accomplish great things in life.”
She said it was very hard at the beginning. She was the “Na” (Aunt) who helps whenever the mothers of all 12 houses are not available.
“I had to train how to take care of the children as they are in my care from when a new born baby right until they’re a teenager. During that time, I had to adapt to all the children’s different personalities from each house.”
After Ms Sumathya completed all the training, she become a Mother of House 1, responsible for looking after 10 children, all different ages from various ethnic backgrounds.
You would think it was a tough job mothering several children; but not for Ms Sumathya, to her it was natural.
“I do everything just as a mother should. I stay with them 24/7. I sleep next to them, wake up with them and guide and teach them in life.”
Two children of of House 1 have left the house already. One has gone to study in Huachiew Chalermprakiet University in Bangkok, while the other was sent to the teenage house for boys. Despite their absence in the house, they never forget to check in and visit their mother.
The remaining eight children are studying in different schools around Phuket, including both private and government schools.
“If you love what you do, you will never feel tired of it,” added the Mother.
Aside from the many Thai women who have devoted themselves to others, 80-year-old Adrienne Irene Tusoni from Switzerland continues to be one of the most respectful ladies in Phuket. She has lived here for more than 40 years and she dedicates her time helping local communities.
At the dear age of 80, Mrs Tusoni is still working for charity and foundations, especially with the Lions Club Phuket. She spends the rest of her time with her lovely Thai family.
“I moved here in 1973 and I initially met the family because I was renting land for business. They are very nice people and we are so close, they are like family,” she recalled.
“I joined the Phuket International Women’s Club right at the beginning, which led me to meet members from the Lions Club. They gave me the wonderful opportunity to be the first Lioness on the island. We met in Phang Nga where we all went to help the victims from the tragic explosion in Thung Maprao.
“I also helped the French Red Cross foundation after the tsunami, by helping them buy boats and basic utilities for the victims – especially for the fishermen in Khao Lak.”
Mrs Tusoni, who speaks fluent Thai, became a Buddhist and she spends her peaceful retirement time with her Thai son who lives next door in Rawai. When asked if she wanted to go back to her mother land or somewhere else where her son, niece or sisters live, her answer was simple: “No”.
“I like to be with Thai people. Sometimes I even think I am more Thai than a foreigner! I like to stay here, help and see the development of the community, especially the children.”
“The activities I do with the club have always interested me. We have a ‘Sight First Project’ which involves us going to various schools and giving them an eye sight measurement service, and give away proper glasses.
“There is also a PEACE poster activity. There is an international competition about this yearly and I am always impressed how the children have the inspired ability to think of the word ‘peace’ and be able to express that in their paintings.”
Apart from the activities mentioned above, Mrs Tusoni said she loves the “Contest on the Knowledge of the Royal Encyclopedia” which teaches children about a wide range of knowledge.
“I like to work with charity as I can do more things with people. We, together, can help to support the community.”