Since 1984 more than two thousand five hundred young adults with disabilities have successfully graduated from the Redemptorist Vocational School for People with Disabilities. They leave with the skills and the knowledge which will allow them to find suitable employment where they will receive the same pay and the same rights as their able bodied colleagues.
Life for a person with a disability is not an easy one. Many born with a disability are not educated as many families do not see a point in sending a child with a disability to school.
As they get older they become a burden on their families. The only work they can find is the work that no one else will do. They are often paid a smaller salary and they have fewer rights.
In large cities people with a disability are often found begging for money on the streets, forced by criminal gangs to beg, and being punished if they do not bring home enough money to satisfy the gang leader.
New students arrive from across the country, and have a selection of courses to choose from Computer Business in English, Media, Electronic Repair, People Empowerment, Mould & Dye and Elementary Education.
Each course last two years and the school provides education, accommodations, meals and health care free of charge. In return, the school expects the students to study hard, pass their examinations and join the workforce as worthwhile members of society.
All students are taught English, as it is the business language of the world. Thailand has a large tourist industry, and there are hundreds of thousands of expatriates who make Thailand their home.
Students are also taught about living with a disability in Thailand, what their rights are, what they can and can not expect from society and how to live as a member of society.
The school teaches the students to take responsibility for their own lives. They learn to take care of themselves so that they can live as independently as possible.
Students with disabilities have many health problems that they have been unable to overcome due in many cases to lack of availability of medical facilities or lack of financial funds.
It is important that all students accepted into the school are in good health. If a student is unwell, and has to make regular visits to a hospital, they will fall behind on their studies.
Students arrive at the school with a variety of health problems. For those who are wheelchair bound, ulcers and pressure sores are the main problem. Those who wear ill-fitting prosthesis complain of broken skin. The school provides all of the necessary medical support to ensure the students are in the best possible health.
The school encourages all students to participate in sporting activities. The school provides the opportunity to compete in traditional Thai sports, as well as archery, swimming, fencing, wheelchair basketball, tennis and athletics. On the annual sports day every student is expected to compete in at least one event. The school also supports any athlete if they are able to participate in national and international sporting events.
The students perform community service in the local area and throughout the country. They regularly visit the nearby area to clean up litter from the streets. Trips up to ethnic hill tribe communities to teach English and computers and repair electrical appliances are also organized.
The aim of the school is to teach young adults with a disability the skills and knowledge required to give them the confidence to live an independent life and ‘earn their own rice.