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The Duke of Gloucester in Thailand
5 December 2018
Jane Arnott, Care for Children's Country Manager in Thailand, recalls a recent visit made by His Royal Highness, The Duke of Gloucester

His Royal Highness, the Duke of Gloucester came on an official visit to Thailand to build on the UK-Thailand partnership. Together with the British Ambassador to Thailand, Brian Davidson, the Duke visited UK organisations and businesses in Bangkok, Chonburi and Chiang Mai during his five-day stay in the kingdom of Thailand. Care for Children were delighted to be included as an example of a British non-profit working in Thailand.

““His Royal Highness’s visit demonstrates the importance of the UK/Thailand relationship, and our commitment to further strengthen ties between our countries.””
British Ambassador to Thailand, Brian Davidson
Find out more about our Thailand Project

To highlight the wonderful commitment of the families who foster children in Chiang Mai, we hosted the Duke’s visit at the home of long-time foster parents Chamnan and Wilai Dangdeng. Their beautiful teak house is located in the rural village of Saluang, amidst an amazing community of friends, relatives and neighbours who have all embraced fostering. Wilai left her job as a child caregiver at a local government orphanage twenty-three years ago, to become a full-time foster Mum. Since then, Wilai, Chamnan and their two daughters have welcomed a total of eighteen foster children into their home.

Thai people have a very deep-rooted respect and appreciation for royalty, so the Duke’s visit was considered a great honour and caused for great excitement and preparation. The staff of Chiang Mai Home for Boys and Vieng Ping Children’s Home, along with all the foster families in the district put in hours and hours of effort to make the Duke’s visit a memorable one.

On the day, orchids were arranged in vases, traditional northern-style banners were flown from long bamboo poles, painted fans decorated the walls and bright red umbrellas and tents went up around the grounds.

Khun Jiraporn Chaoprayoon Yamamoto, the head of the Chiang Mai Provincial Social Development and Human Secrity Office, welcomed the Duke and Ambassador on behalf of Care for Children, the two government children’s homes and the foster families and she proudly talked of the success of foster care in Chiang Mai, and Care for Children’s efforts over the last six years.

The Duke and Ambassador were treated to a beautiful “Blessing Dance” by two older foster girls and a second dance by six young ones from the Vieng Ping Children’s Home. A gift of original artwork by Care for Children’s Media Content Designer, Kitipong Khuang-ar-rin, was presented to both the Duke and the Ambassador and the Duke later commented:

““I am very happy to be here today and see the work of Care for Children and the foster families. Thank you for the wonderful gift. It will remind me of the happy afternoon I have spent with all of you.””

The umbrellas and tents that had been erected in the vast grounds of Wilai’s home, housed little “stations” to show-case something unique about the lives some of the foster families present that day. The Duke and Ambassador walked from station to station, chatting with the foster children and their parents, learning something about life in each foster home. Here are some of the stories that were shared:

  • Nai’s family raises free-range chicken’s (or “happy chickens” as they are referred to in Thai). Her foster daughter helps her collect the eggs each morning and her young foster son delights in chasing the chickens around their enclosure.
  • Mae Id’s eleven-year-old foster daughter explained to the Duke that she has learnt how to grow mushrooms and she beamed a huge smile when the Duke noticed a photo of her presenting her mushroom project to Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand.
  • Srijun and Setien, who foster biological sisters, were delighted when the Duke sampled the sun-dried bananas their family grows and sells.
  • Pensri’s teenage foster son caught the Duke’s attention with his collection of fighting beetles. He told the Duke how they go about finding the beetles in the forest, then they let them feed on sugar cane. He went on to explain to the Duke that the male rhino beetles will fight using their long horns to ward off male rivals when in the presence of a female beetle
Find out more about our Thailand Project
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