Garden of Children
Ratchaburana, Bangkok, Thailand
Naulnoi Timkul used to be a laborer at a children’s hospital where she witnessed many women abandon their children, particularly kids who were disabled. Witnessing the abandonment of children by their mothers saddened her.
After she married her husband, Wichian, she moved to Ratchaburana and bought a house with a beautiful fruit garden. Her garden became popular among the poor neighborhood children who stayed alone in their houses during the day while their parents worked. Some of these children would stay with Naulnoi for companionship and she developed a great love for them.
Naulnoi began teaching the kids to read and write by using a stick and dirt as she had no money to purchase school materials. Through the years, more children came to her house, and increasingly homeless children began showing up. Remembering the sense of abandonment these children felt, she decided to sell all her belongings to raise money and open an orphanage.
Today she is an activist, fighting child homelessness and working with the government for the rights of abandoned children whom often don’t have birth documents or ID cards and therefore, are not allowed to participate in school. She is very proud of the fact that all her children are able to attend school. Since 1980, she has hosted over 1,000 children, 18 of whom were able to attend college and gain bachelor’s degrees, which she is particularly proud of. Naulnoi says she will take care of children until she dies and that her only concern now is that she is aging and hopes someone will take her place as caretaker for abandoned children.
Preaw, the young girl in the red shirt, is the daughter of a teen named Wan who couldn’t care for her 1 year-old daughter. They now both live with Naulnoi.
At a certain age kids work in the orphanage mainly doing household shores. The young teen pictured had just finished sweeping the floors.
The staff is mostly formerly abandoned children. They are poor and some have disabilities or have difficulty working. By remaining to help take care of the children they also have access to the orphanage as a shelter for themselves.