Dane supports abandoned children in Khon Kaen

Six years has it been, since Danish Steen Pausbæk and his family first got involved with Baan Luuk Rak Children Home in Khon Kaen.

The home for abandoned children was founded in 1997 by Suriya Somjai and his wife, who died of breast cancer eight years ago.

Her sudden death left her husband and their now 24-year-old daughter alone to provide for the 46 children that resides at the orphanage. The youngest being only seven months, while the oldest is 18 years old.

Besides providing financial aid, Steen collects money for the children’s home from friends and Danish businesses back in Denmark. An effort that recently resulted in a donation of 20,000 DKK from Honorarfonden by Novo Nordisk.

But the family’s involvement goes beyond financial support. This is clear, as Steen steps out of the car and in to the small parking lot in front of the main building. Here, a small boy by the age of seven, immediately runs to greet him.

Though they don’t speak the same language, the little boy throws himself into Steen’s arms, with a beaming smile that lights up his face.

“I’m sure he won’t be the only one,” Steen says with watery eyes that shows, he is clearly touched by the situation.

“I miss you mom”

With the little boy dragging along, clinging to him like glue, Steen goes to greet another little girl, he has become quite familiar with through the time the family has spend there.

“Hello Mint. It’s good to see you,” he says to the girl, who looks down the long wooden table in front of her with a shy, subtle smile.

“Jum, can you translate that?” he asks his wife, who translate for the little girl with the black backpack tucked over her shoulders, which indicates that she has just come back from school.

“When we were here back in October last year, it was her birthday,” Steen shares.

“Back then she asked, if she could call her mom, because she really missed her. She hadn’t seen her for years. They lent her a phone and she then tried calling her mom, but there was no answer. She then sent her a text message saying, that she missed her. Two days later her mom replied, that she had remarried and that Mint now has two younger siblings, but that there is no room for her in the family,” Steen shares with a voice that is tearing up.

Even though he cannot communicate directly with the kids, he knows all of their stories and he manages to create bonds beyond words.

He raises his hand, encouraging the girl to give him a high-five. She smiles and sends him a high-five back.

Not up for adoption

Baan Luuk Rak is not just a regular orphanage. Although many of the kids are left without parents or has parents they rarely see, adoption is never on the table.

To protect the kids from the risk of being hurt and abandoned all over again, Baan Luuk Rak instead provides them with a home as well as tutoring and the possibility of gaining work experience at the premises. To do this, they have created different project like gardening, a clothes altering business and a café, which is run by the kids themselves. All the profit goes to the children’s home and to support the kids.

One of these kids are View. Six years back, he and two of his younger siblings were left at the orphanage by their alcoholic mother. Their aunt chose to adopt a fourth sibling, but she had no room for the other three children.

View was then nine years old. With a mother who was unable to take care of her four kids, and an aunt who only had room for one, the remaining three siblings have been taken care of each other at Baan Luuk Rak ever since.

“View dreams of becoming an engineer,” Steen tells with proud in his voice. He has known the boy for six years now, and it is obvious, that the two have created a special bond despite the linguistic barrier.

But an education like that doesn’t come cheap, and the orphanage is not necessarily capable of the financial burden of bringing the many kids though the educational system.

“Whatever money we have, will go to support those with the biggest potential,” replies Suriya Somjai, when asked about Views possibilities.

Touched by the trust

As Steen walks into the café, one of the older girls behind the counter greets him with a hug.

“She has never done that before,” says Steen with disbelief, like he cannot believe, what just happened.

“Jum. Did you see that? Did you see how she greeted me with a hug? She has never done that before,” he tells his wife with a lot of enthusiasm.

He sits down in the corner of the small café with a mineral water and a joyful grin.

“One of the things that touches me the most, is the childrens trust in people. Their trust in me. How they always remember us from the last time we were here and always seem happy to see us again. That really warms my heart. Knowing that coming here seems to make a difference to them.”

Another young girl, carefully pokes her head into the café and tries to gets Steen’s attention. Short after she slowly enters and walks towards the corner, where Steen is seated. It doesn’t take long before Steen ask the young people behind the counter, if it is okay that he buys her a little treat. Soon after he ask her to pick out a chocolate bar from a basket on the counter.

“I usually trying not to make it seem like I’m favorizing, but look how happy she is now,” he says with a smile, just as big as the girl’s.

The difference a balloon makes

As the family leaves the café, they go to fetch the bags of toys that they brought for the kids.

“Last time, a boy asked me to crawl up a pole to get him a balloon,” Steen’s wife Jum tells with a warm laugh.

“He said that since I am bigger than him it would be easier for me,” Jum adds.

Because of that incidence, the family deliberately brought the kids balloons, along with different kinds of more regular toys.

As soon as the bags were out, the kids swarmed around them, buzzing like excited little bees.

The toys were laid out at the long wooden table in the center square. The kids jumped towards it, but without hoarding. Every kid received a piece of toy and a balloon.

Suddenly, a child turned on the water hose, and started a balloon-water fight. Kids were jumping around the puddle of water that quickly formed. Filling their balloons with water and throwing them around. Smiling. Laughing. Enjoying themselves, while Steen, his family and Suriya Somjai observed them from the sideline. All with a blissful smile on their face.

Baan Luuk Rak Childrens Home: https://www.facebook.com/BaanLuukRakChildrensHome

About Miabell Mallikka

Miabell Mallikka is a journalist working with ScandAsia at the headquarters in Bangkok.

View all posts by Miabell Mallikka

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