Slum Child wins Norway Scholarship

The spectacular and beautiful shores of Flekke Fjord in Norway may seem light years away from the bustle of Bangkoks’ busy streets. But for one bright Thai student they will soon become home. Meet Wan Wi Sa Prom Sot or Mem as she is known to her friends.
     Next month Mem begins two years of sponsored study at The Red Cross United World College near Oslo. Overseas scholarships may not be extraordinary in themselves, what makes her story truly remarkable, is that Mem was born and raised in the slums of Klong Toey in Bangkok and is a prodigy of the Human Development Foundation (HDF).
      The HDF Mercy Centre and Father Joe Maier have been hard at work in the slums for more than 30 years now. Striving resolutely to combat the hardships of poverty and diseases like HIV/AIDS, our mission in simple terms is ” Partnership with the poor” and Mems’ achevements pay great tribute to this partnership.
     Mem is, however, the exception and not the rule. In a country that now has over 300,000 children orphaned to HIV/Aids, the HDF is struggling to cope and we need your help more than ever before.
      Mems marvellous aptitude became clear when she was very young. Neither of her parents had jobs so when Mem was 5 years old her mother came to Father Joe to ask for assistance. Mem enrolled in one of the HDFs Pre-schools and quickly excelled. She has never got anything less than staight A’s and has ambitions to study medicine at Oxford.
      There are now more than 33 HDF pre-schools throughout Bangkok, feeding and educating 4500 children every day and whilst not all of its’ students may end up at Oxford they all share at least one common bond because all are victms. Whether it be abuse, violence or diseases like HIV.
     Giving shattered lives the opportunity and confidence to reclaim their rights is the day to day business at HDF.
      Mem says she is thrilled at the prospect of living in Norway and is keen to learn about all things Norwegian. It should come as no surprise that high on her list is learning to cook Norwegian style and she is eager to make new friends.
      The work of HDF is truly amazing. The street teams of the organization meet an average of 40 new children every week. Last year the legal aid program of HDF defended the rights of over 1500 children in the law courts.
      HDF’s scholastic sponsorship help over 500 schoolchildren like Mem with higher education and 95% of the children, which HDF simply calls “our children” finish 6th grade and go on to get real jobs as teachers, nurses, taxi drivers.
     Many of the 265 permenant HDF staff were once in the programme themselves and have now returned (working for a fraction of what they could earn elsewhere) to give other kids like Mem a chance at life.
     “All of the work we do is reliant on money that people donate,” says fundraiser for HDF, Mr. Jonathan Shortridge. “This year we need 100 million Baht just to stand still.”
     “The HDF struggles financially each and every month and we need your help now,” Mr. Shortridge adds.
      “Please do something, at least come and visit us at the Mercy Centre to see where the money goes. But please don’t put this article down and do nothing, because little lives are depending on you.”
     Contact details for the Human Development Foundation are: office phone 02 636 7604 or email: hdf@post.com

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