The Slum Angel

Many of you will be familiar with Mother Theresa, whose work with street children, among the slums of Calcutta brought her worldwide fame and adulation, but few of you, outside Thailand, will have heard of Prateep Ungsongtham Hata.

Khun Prateep, known as the “Slum Angel”, for her tireless campaigning, aimed at improving the lives of slum dwellers in Bangkok’s Klong Toey district, was herself born and raised in the squalor of this sprawling shanty town.

Consisting of tin huts and open sewers, Klong Toey is home to an estimated 100,000 people and is rife with unemployment, illiteracy, disease and drug abuse. The people live a precarious existence, often without basic amenities and have very few legal rights.

Despite the profound social problems Khun Prateep has, over the last 35 years, managed to nurture hope and give those living in Klong Toey the chance of a better life through the power of education.

Khun Prateep, in spite of her humble beginnings, was able to fund her way through night school and win a place at prestigious Suan Dusit Teacher Training College. In 1968, alongside her studies, she opened an informal school to help the children within her community.

She first came into the public eye, in 1976, when the Port Authority of Thailand served eviction notices on her school and hundreds of her neighbour’s houses. She lobbied the PAT and the government to reach a compromise and a new site was found for the inhabitants homes and her school was officially recognised.

Two years later, the Duang Prateep or “Flame of Enlightenment” Foundation, was established, aimed at directly tackling the issues of poverty and deprivation, together with raising awareness of the plight of the people living in Klong Toey.

Today, the organisation is still going strong and has helped thousand’s of people escape from the vicious circle of deprivation and disenfranchisement.

Many foreign visitors have volunteered at the foundation over the years and if you are going to do any charitable work when you’re next in Thailand then Duang Prateep, is as good a place as any!!!

If you would like to know more about Prateep Ungsongtham Hata, the Duang Prateep foundation or to find out about volunteering opportunities then please visit their website…..

http://en.dpf.or.th/?q=node/22

For more general information the following websites are very useful…..

http://www.worldvolunteerweb.org/news-views/volunteer-stories/doc/volunteers-for-the-duang.html

http://www.crin.org/organisations/viewOrg.asp?ID=387

http://www.everyhumanhasrights.org/prateep-ungsongtham-hata

http://www.insearchofsanuk.com/2009/03/dpf/

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