Former Pratthanadee student Teang (Teang Polraksa) developed her mental toughness from her childhood years. While her parents planted rice in the fields, she tended the buffalo and cooked for the family. To supplement the rice, she had to forage for other foods to put on the table, and water, back then, had to be drawn from the river and carried back to the village. Light source at home was an oil lamp as there was no electricity. That was rural life in Khon Kaen province over 40 years ago before she left at the age of 13 for Bangkok. There was not enough to live on, so she had leave to find work in the Big Mango.

Fortunately for Teang, she was quickly hired by a garment factory. Not knowing how to operate a sewing machine, the young novice learnt her craft cutting loose threads from finished garments. Making only 300 baht a month, she sent 200 back home. Subsisting on a 100 baht every month then was possible as home was the factory floor. Teang stayed on the job until she turned 21 when she was recalled home for an arranged marriage. 

A year into the relationship, realizing her husband was lazy and unreliable, Teang again left for Bangkok. This time, with a one-month-old baby in toll. She returned to work in the factory and kept at it until she was 32 and had to quit because the long hours of sitting affected her health. On the recommendation of a cousin, she started life as a housekeeper for expatriate families in the capital city. It was a job Teang enjoyed tremendously and worked till she retired several years ago in her 50s. One of the families she took care of even sponsored her daughter’s university education and lent them money to buy a home in Bangkok.

In the course of her work as a domestic helper, Teang became a student at Pratthanadee in 2003. Even though learning English was her primary motivation as her employers were expatriates, she also acquired other knowledge on goals setting, planning for life, and practical skills such as cooking, First Aid and CPR. “My last job was with an American family. I travelled with them to Japan and one day their five-year-old had a candy stuck in the throat. I applied the First Aid skills I learnt at Pratthanadee and helped dislodge the candy. I helped to save a life!”


Today Teang is happily retired back in her hometown. The 54-year-old still remembers fondly her time at the foundation. “Without the support of my classmates and the volunteer teachers. I wouldn’t be what I am today. They helped me when I had problems with my job or money; they supported me emotionally and cheered me up.”