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Homeless Baht Bus Driver and his 10 year-old Son Overwhelmed at Thai Public’s Generosity



The happy 10-year-old and his grateful father during the media briefing in Hat Yai, Songkhla, about the donations. – Photo Assawin Pakkawan

SONGKHLA -The homeless driver of a minibus in Songkhla’s Hat Yai, Runroj Thiprat, 62 and his 10 year-old son Kampanart, or Nong Parn have been overwhelmed at the public’s generosity and donations given to help them.

Runroj Thiprat and his 10-year-old son have been living in the rented minibus he drives for almost a year because he could not earn enough to make ends meet – but all that is about to change.

The poor man has been alone with his son Kampanart, or Nong Parn, since his wife left when the child was three.

His father said he was sorry that his son had to live in the tuktuk and had no opportunity to play like other children.

Mr Rungroj provided a minibus service in downtown Hat Yai and earned 200-300 baht a day. Of this, 120 baht went immediately to meet the daily charge for using the vehicle, and the rest on daily expenses and school costs for his son.

Sometimes the minibus, known as a “tuk-tuk” in the South, broke down and he could not even meet the daily rental. There was never enough money.

Mr Rungroj eventually realised he had no choice but to use the minibus as their shelter. He could not afford a room.

He and his son used the facilities at a petrol station toilet. Every morning, Nong Parn, now a Pathom Suksa 2 student, went to help monks on their alms round before going to school. The monks gave the boy food.

Then a kind samaritan, learning of their plight, stepped in. Panu Pitakpao, the director of a learning centre in Hat Yai, set up a fund for public donations to help them, and the money started rolling in.

Mr Panu and two of the boy’s teachers at Thetsaban 5 School on Tuesday made public the amount of the donations and how the money was to be managed during a media briefing at Green Way market.

Mr Panu said donations paid into two bank accounts over the past six days stood at 1.34 million baht. One donor had even offered to donate a block of land in Bang Klam district for the family to build a house, Mr Panu said. (continues below)

Panu Pitakpao, director of a learning centre in Hat Yai (left), shows a bankbook with donations for the driver and his son.

The donated money would be used to cover the rent of a house and to purchase a second-hand minibus for Mr Rungroj so he could earn a better living. The remaining money would constitute an education fund for the boy.

A committee would be set up to manage the donated money and expenses of the family. The committee would disclose all donations and expenses in detail, said Mr Panu.

Runroj Thiprat, in tears as he thanks all donors for the kindness they had extended to him and his 10-year-old son.

Mr Rungroj burst into tears as he expressed his gratitude to all donors. He had never thought that he and his son would be given a second chance in life.

He would continue driving a minibus to support his son and vowed to do good things to repay the generosity of the donors.

Nong Parn also thanked all donors for their help. The 10-year-old looked cheerful and happy.

The two teachers, Ms Kornkamol Thaenmanee and Ms Nathida Krodkangkan, said the school had learned of the student’s sad plight and often gave him food to take home to eat. As the boy suffered from an attention deficit, the school would provide special tuition to help improve his learning skills.

By Assawin Pakkawan
Bangkok Post

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