Before 12-year-old Natthapong became a sponsored child, his family had to work hard for a very low income that was barely enough to meet their basic needs.
By Keurkoon, World Vision Thailand Communications Officer
Five years ago, due to the poverty in the project, the family did not have enough money to buy meat. The nearest market is 18 kilometres away and consistent transportation is hard to come by, so home-grown vegetables were their staple food.
But circumstances changed completely after Natthapong entered the Sponsorship Program.
Natthapong's family lives and works near the forest. His father, Prapan, is a rubber tapper (a process where the latex is collected off a tree).
In the past, every morning Prapan took Natthapong to school on a motorcycle and travelled back home to rest in midday, as rubber trees can only be tapped at night.
Although he intends to work hard, the unpredictable weather condition in southern Thailand is a hindrance to rubber tapping. In drought seasons, the family were not able to generate enough income.
But life started to change when Natthapong became a sponsored child in the Lam Thap project.
In 2012, World Vision provided Natthapong’s family with 10 hens when they had accumulated enough funds to build a house for the chickens to lay eggs.
Sakorn, Natthapong's mum, sells some of the eggs for 90 baht (3 US dollars) per tray to neighbours. She also cooks egg dishes for her son to eat and some of his favourites are black sauce eggs, fried eggs and akelokeki (fried boiled eggs with sauce).
When the hens grow old they won't be able to lay eggs, so I will sell them and use that money to buy younger hens, Sakorn says.
The livelihood support from World Vision has brought hope to this family. They plan to buy 40 more hens using their income and expand the family’s business.
Sponsorship helps the family earn enough to meet daily expenses and continually provide their children with education.
Nowadays, Natthapong wakes up at five am to shower and get ready for school. He eats his favourite breakfast - fried egg on rice with fish sauce.
His family is able to pay for the school bus service, so he can enjoy his journey to school and chat with the driver and friends.
"Natthapong is a diligent child. He has never been absent from school," Sakorn says.
What does the 12-year-old like about school most? “I love sports”, Natthapong immediately says. Playing football with friends in school is what he looks forward to.
If he finishes homework early in the evening, Natthapong also enjoys rolling marbles on the ground with Ugrit, 13, his neighbour or playing with the hens at home. On some evenings, he helps Sakorn feed the hens with chopped banana leaves and helps collect their eggs.
Natthapong is now a healthy teenager and enjoys receiving letters from his Australian sponsor, Mr. Stuart.
"Thank you for sponsoring me," says Natthapong.