On New Year's Day, about a hundred youngsters from the Fr Ray's Children's Home in Pattaya packed their bags and moved to the Father Ray Children's Village, located near Lake Mabprachan.
In the early 1990's Pattaya was one of the main destinations for children and teenagers running away from their families, their home towns and villages. Mostly escaping poverty, there were also problems with drug and alcohol and many children were victims of abuse.
In the early 1990's Pattaya was also a very popular destination for men looking to have sex with children, boys and girls. Because of this, Father Ray Brennan opened the Home for Street Kids in Pattaya Klang, giving these street kids a place of safety, a home, stability, and after a few years he moved the boys into a brand new building five kilometres away in what was then known as the 'Dark Side'.
In 2002 a new home for girls was built, and at times there were more than two hundred children and teenagers living there. The children walked to school along a dirt track, and attended the small local temple, but as Pattaya has grown the roads have been paved, the local school has doubled in size and the small temple is now a very big temple.
The Home changed its name to the Father Ray Children's Home and over the past three decades has welcomed more than seven hundred children through its doors.
On New Year's Eve 2019 the gates of the Home closed for the very last time. The current one hundred residents packed their bags and made the three kilometre journey to the Father Ray Children's Village, located near Lake Mabprachan.
New houses have been built using donations that were given specifically for the use of construction; the funds could not be used for anything else. The residents will now live in small houses, no longer sleeping in huge bedrooms, or eating in a dining room almost the same size as a basketball court.
The Father Ray Foundation has always tried to move with the times, changing the way it provides care and education as new research and practices on child care is released. Leaving the home feels like the end of an era - but its the start of a very exciting new one.
More information can be found at: www.fr-ray.org
Watch a short film about the Village here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=rm6NwmQyfa0
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