In 2002, Asia Center Foundation (ACF) established the Patong Childcare Center, ACF’s flagship project. Since its inception, the project has expanded and is now providing care and pre-school education to 69 disadvantaged students. Patong Childcare Center provides its service at no cost to children who come from single parent, and low income families or families where children have been left with grandparents to care for them. Usually the main provider of their families can no longer support them due to illness, divorce or death.
The children are encouraged and guided to develop into creative, happy and well cared for individuals in defiance of their impoverished family life. Emphasis is placed on providing a safe, stimulating and nurturing environment without neglecting discipline. Apart from the essential educational needs that are met, the children are provided with basic medical care, food, transport to and from the center and lots of love. Upon graduation from the pre-school, the children also receive a scholarship from ACF when they take their first big steps into their local Primary School.
Patong Childcare Center establishes routines in the daily lives of the children. These routines are important as at home, many did not have any, and often they would arrive at the center tired and hungry. The Foundation also organizes a Saturday Kids Club Program so the children can spend time on weekends learning safety and swimming skills.
Prior to the Patong Childcare Center being established, children were often left unsupervised with neighbors or older brothers and sisters, sometimes not very much older than themselves. Some were even locked into rooms during the day for their own protection by their parents. Others had to go to work with their parents, which might be a garbage dump picking through rubbish.
“It is fantastic to see them changing from wild little things into the beautiful children they are. Many went from crying, wild children to smiling, confident children when they got to try and master something new.” comments Roelien Muller, Director of Asia Center Foundation.