Breaking the vicious cycle of poverty

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 August, 2006, 12:00am

POVERTY DEPRIVES ITS victims of opportunities and is passed on from generation to generation. Children from impoverished families lack education, and the few who attend school will drop out early so that they can work and support their families.

Queen Sirikit's vision is to solve this problem at the core.

Decades ago at an opening ceremony of a Unicef event held at Sala Santitham, Bangkok, in 1964, she spoke of her vision for the generation of the future.

'As a mother, I wish to see all children enjoying a happy childhood and lovingly cared for from a young age,' she said.

'When they grow up they will be an asset to the community. They will be ready to assist in developing and promoting the progress of the country and also of the world as a whole.'

For years, the Queen used her personal funds to grant scholarships to underprivileged children, but as the initiative grew bigger a new division called 'students under royal patronage' at the royal secretariat to the Queen was warranted.

Tens of thousands of youngsters have benefited from the scheme over the past 22 years, and many of the graduates have set up their own businesses or returned home to help promote the welfare of their native communities.

The Queen talks to some disenfranchised families and recommends more suitable jobs so they can improve their financial positions. Arts and handicraft courses are held for people who show innate creativity.

Queen Sirikit has established reading pavilions in several villages stocked up with basic school books, picture books

and magazines, so that villagers can gather for basic reading lessons while enjoying community life.

Lack of education also led to agricultural and fishing practices that destroyed the environment, which in the long run destroyed people's livelihoods.

Queen Sirikit has started various projects that help restore forests and fish supplies, while educating farmers and fishermen about the importance of environmental protection.