Goong's Story: The Constant CaretakerBy Sarah Krantz
Supannee Chorithaisong (Goong) was born in the Northeast of Thailand in a small village outside Lopburi. When Goong was two months old she and her two-year-old brother were abandoned by her mother. Her parents had been working on a sugar cane plantation and decided to separate; both parents took off and left their small children alone. A neighbor heard the terrified cries of the young baby and finally got in contact with the grandparents who took both children in. Goong was then raised by her grandparents on a rice farm.
From a young age Goong was taught everything about rice farming and was expected to work alongside her grandparents and her aunts and uncles. Her mother did not reappear in her life for the next thirteen years.
At the age of thirteen Goong had the opportunity to go to school. She would ride her bike 3 kilometers to catch a bus that would take her the next 18 kilometers to school. Goong did this journey for the next three years of her life. She wanted to continue going to school, but her grandparents said there was not enough money and she had to come back to working in the fields.
This was a sad and happy time for Goong. Her mother had reappeared for a brief time with a new baby girl and a new husband. The husband did not appreciate Goong or her brother and would beat them consistently. Soon the mother and her new husband disappeared again and Goong was left with her little sister. She says it was a very difficult time in her life, but she was happy having her sister to take care of.
During this time, Goong was being physically abused by her uncle, who also lived with her grandparents. One night he came home and began kicking her spinal cord, finally Goong had enough and she ran away. She was only 16 years old but she knew she had to go somewhere else.
She ended up in Lompuri City where she got a job taking care of little children during day, and waitressing at night. Goong was very proud of herself that she was able to earn enough money to send home to her grandparents. “I always sent money home, but I didn’t want them to know where I was, but I think they always knew.”
Goong worked doing everything could, she finally had enough money to buy her own cart to sell food on the side of the road. Although she still had not forgotten her mother abandoning her, she called her mother and said there was a better opportunity for her than working in the sugar cane plantation. At first her mother refused, but eventually gave in and came to help Goong with the cart.
Goong was pleased to have her mother around, however her mother’s husband accompanied her and physically abused both Goong and her mother. Finally Goong said she had enough and pleaded her mother to leave him, but her mother would have no thought of it. So once again, Goong, age 18, was on her own again. She left and headed on her way down to Phuket.
It was here that she began waitressing again and able to gain more experience cooking. She continued to send all money home to her mother now in hopes that she could make her sister’s childhood easier than her own. Cooking and taking care of people was something that she always enjoyed and finally had the opportunity to cater to these skills. It was here that she met a man from Switzerland who persuaded her to move to the Khao Lak area.
“I thought about it for seven months, then I decided to go.” In Khao Lak is where she was until the Tsunami hit in 2004. “I lost everything, but it only happened once….I can have again.”
It is this perseverance and resilience that has taken this young girl so far. Goong is one of the most hard working, caring individuals in the program. She is constantly cooking and sharing food with all staff and her fellow students, “Taking care of people makes me feel good, “ she said.
Goong’s desire to learn has never left her; she has taken on English and Computers with dedication. Before coming to ETC Goong was afraid to swim, she has now completed her dive master course like a true professional.
Goong’s positive attitude has kept her going strong through all adversity. Even though the past was painful, and speaking of it candidly was not easy, Goong’s reply was “I know I can do anything…..and I just like to think of the good things, it’s better than remembering the past, because I have a future.”
Supannee Chorithaisong (Goong)