HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

From street kid to grad student

PTIS students raise funds for Japan earthquake relief

CMU Faculty of Engineering Fund Raiser

Croston House in Lampang suffers devastating fire

Korea Bans Corporal Punishment in Schools


From street kid to grad student

By Rebecca Henschke, Jakarta, Indonesia

William Ignasius Rettob has survived living of the streets, child labor and sectarian violence in his hometown Ambon, Maluku. Today he studies graphic design at university, works full time and is inspiring a group of young Indonesians with his story.

“After my adopted parents died when I was 15 I had no one, I really didn’t know what do to. A man who said he was a friend of my father’s offered to take me to Jakarta and put me into school. I was excited, but as soon as we were on the boat things changed. They didn’t have a ticket and I was forced to hide in a bag at the bottom of the boat. When we got to Jakarta he forced me to work in his stone building industry… I was paid nothing… so I escaped at night. I jumped from the second storey,” recalls William.

He ran to a church where he was handed over to a crisis center for street children called Puspita. Today, William, or Willie for short, is a hero at the center and his life is dramatically different from when he first arrived in Jakarta from Ambon.

Run by a Muslim couple Aang Ali Qohar and his wife Umi, the Puspita center helps children from poor backgrounds, children living on the streets and those who have suffered abuse. They provide accommodation, school fees, food, guidance and love and have helped more than 500 children since 2000.

“The first time Willie came here he was scared and was very confused because he was a Christian and was traumatized by the conflict between Christians and Muslims in Ambon,” says Pak Aang of the sectarian violence that claimed nearly 10,000 lives.

“I was around 7-years-old when the Muslim Christian troubles started in 2000. It was horrible. I went to visit the house of a friend and I remember there was blood everywhere. All the white tiles were covered in blood. There was blood all over the walls. Everyday there were bombs and hundreds of people injured. You counted yourself lucky if you were not caught up in it,” says Willie.

Pak Aang says that Willie had a terrible temper and would often boss the other children around.

“He was very happy here and doing well but one day he got into a fight with one of the other children and I told him that I would return him to the church otherwise all the children would suffer. He was so worried he started crying like a 2 year old because he was really happy at Puspita,” he says.

It’s hard to imagine that the well-spoken Willie sitting with and sharing stories with the younger children at Puspita is the same tough 15 year old that arrived in Jakarta. “I really love the younger students. I try to motivate them. When we are sitting playing guitar I say ‘Why am I better than you?’ Or I tease them saying ‘Come on, I am working and studying now and I know it’s hard work…the world is competitive if you are lazy and don’t work hard what are you going to be? A cleaner? So I try motivate them,” he says.

Several of the street children at Puspita have ended up studying medicine, performing arts or a trade and have come a long way from begging or busking on the streets. “We are proving that street kids are not the dredge of society. We are people!” says Willie. He joins the current younger students and sings the group’s theme song that he helped write in English. Rapping and singing on the track is 16-year-old Kay.

“When I see Willie I feel proud to have a friend who has been through so much and is now succeeding in life. It also motivates me to be a success like him. What is certain though is that I will be more of a success than Willie,” he laughs. “We have to aim for that!”

This article was first broadcast on Asia Calling, a regional current affairs radio program produced by Indonesia’s independent radio news agency KBR68H and broadcast in local languages in 10 countries across Asia. You can find more stories from Asia Calling at Produced in conjunction with the Faculty of Mass Communications, Chiang Mai University.

PTIS students raise funds for Japan earthquake relief

The wristbands that PTIS students are selling
to raise funds for earthquake and tsunami relief.

Right after the earthquake on March 11th in Japan the PTIS International School Students Council started to talk and launched this fundraising project for those affected people by selling the wristband with a writing that says “Japan Earthquake Relief”.

Japanese, Thai and multi national students have been working for the planning, designing and management of production and sales of wristbands since March 12th.

PTIS Student Council members Ami, Yan and Yu-Yu.

Students have successfully sold 300 bands from March 23rd to 26th with the support of their friends and raised 25,000 baht as the first project.

The victims have to fight and they would need long-term support so the Student Council decided to sell another 700 wristbands to raise fund more and remember them.
The wristbands cost 100 baht each

The members of the Student Council said, “We came up with the idea of this project 2 days after the devastating earthquake and tsunami took place in the North-east Japan. The project was originally thought by Ami Okuno (Japanese Student ) but expanded and thought among the student council members of PTIS International School.

We are selling wristbands and not T-shirts or other accessories because wristbands do not require different sizing while T-shirts needs at least 3 sizes (S,M,L).Wristbands are worn on the wrist and here in Thailand during this time of the year, people wear short sleeves, which exposes the wristbands better. Wristbands are much easier to wear because many religious people wear necklaces but there are very few religious ornament that are worn on the wrist so this wristband can stand out. The surface area of the wristband can be disadvantageous but this case it’s advantageous because we can write most important thing and it stands out and send out the message quickly and clearly.

Originally we raised money by just getting the donations or having bake sales, but we have never sold wristbands in the school so it was a completely new idea to everyone.

By selling wristbands, both the sellers (us) and the buyer benefit. If more people get the wristbands, there will be money to send off to Japan. The buyers can get something tangible by buying these wristbands and show the people that they support the victims of Japan.

Our aim is not only have the people donate the money, but also think about the people who’ve suffered and lost the loved ones when they put this wristband.

We think that donation is a very important way of supporting the victims, but caring and thinking is another strong way to support.”

All the profit raised by selling the wristbands will go to Red Cross where they donate 100% of what they get.

So far the students have sold 300 within the school, but are expanding this project out to Chiang Mai and Thailand. It’s a very unique way of raising money and no other schools in Chiang Mai have done this.

The students noted, “As Songkran approaches, there will be less reports about the victims and their situation in Japan, but Japan needs our long-term support and we can show our support by selling and buying these wristbands. When we have fun, there still be people who suffer emotionally and physically because of tsunami. We should never forget about them at any time.”

For further information please contact : Ami Okuno (Japanese Student / English and Japanese)

08-1980-8337. [email protected] Nararat (Yu-Yu) Tananuwat (Thai Student / English and Thai) 08-1884-7531. [email protected] (PTIS).

CMU Faculty of Engineering Fund Raiser

The Faculty of Engineering held a fundraiser for Japan titled Fighto Japan at The Box on Nimmanhaemin Soi 5 on Wednesday, March 29. With live music, the fund raiser saw t-shirts and other souvenirs for sale to benefit Japanese survivors. The evening was well attended with both lecturers and students enjoying the music in the hip atmosphere of the trendy bar. Passersby also stopped by to join the evening and the music.
Fund raising activities are taking place all across the city as various organizations pitch in to help.

Croston House in Lampang suffers devastating fire

The Croston Children’s Home in Lamphun saw their manager’s house, office and storage building destroyed in a fire.

The Croston House Children’s Home in Lamphun suffered a major fire on March 22, 2011. Fortunately the children’s accommodation was not damaged and nobody suffered any serious injuries except for Glenn Croston who fractured his hand trying to save important items from the buildings that were destroyed in the fire.

The Foundation lost the office, storage and manager’s house. Fortunately a visiting school group from Chiang Mai visited and donated food items and other essentials in time for the school holidays. The storage area needs to be rebuilt before re-stocking supplies of essential food items, toiletries and cleaning materials as well as replacing things like sports equipment and school stationery.

Anyone interested in learning more or wishing to help can contact Glenn Croston at 086-3857118 or e-mail [email protected]

Korea Bans Corporal Punishment in Schools

By Jason Strother, Seoul, South Korea

Education in South Korea is taken very seriously. For centuries, parents compelled their children to study hard and earn degrees in order to gain a higher position in society. Some say corporal punishment at schools was part of that tradition. While the government formally banned corporal punishment in schools this March, the ruling is receiving mixed responses from students and teachers alike.

Cho Eun Ae has vivid memories of being punished harshly during her freshman year for chatting to a friend during class. “The teacher shouted at me to open my hand and when I did he smashed it hard with a stick several times and it was quite painful,” says the 23-year-old.

Most Koreans have had a similar experience. Korean teachers were permitted to use what many called the “stick of love” to discipline students for various things. Corporal punishment was seen as a symbol of Korea’s Confucian educational tradition, but some teachers took it too far.

Last year, a student used a cell phone to secretly record the beating of a classmate at the hands of his 6th grade teacher. The teacher pushes and punches the boy, as other kids look on. The video was uploaded to the web and many parents, students and teachers were horrified.

In March this year, the Korean government responded with a nationwide ban on corporal punishment, but the prohibition has left some educators looking for new alternatives to maintain order in the classroom.

“Students could be made to stand up for long periods of time during class. Or they could run laps around the school’s playground, pick up trash in the neighborhood or participate in school campaigns, such as standing in the hall and telling other students not to be late for class,” says Ra Dong Chul, headmaster of Jung-an girl’s high in Seoul.

Chul says he’s waiting for the Ministry of Education to release its new guidelines on school discipline before implementing these alternative punishments, but other educators say those methods aren’t much better.

Dong Hoon Chan is a committee chairman at the Korean Teachers’ and Education Workers’ Union and he says all forms of physical punishment, whether direct or indirect, are wrong. “We support non-physical discipline such as sending kids to a self-reflection room or having the student go on a mountain hike with their teacher to help improve their communication,” he says.

Chan says the Ministry of Education should have held more discussions with teachers on how best to control their students before the ban on corporal punishment began. Even some students agree. Park Bum-jun, an 18-year-old student, says teachers have been left with no authority and students are taking advantage of it.

“Since the ban, some teachers are being abused by their students. Some kids hit their teachers because they know they can get away with it, without punishment. I know the ban was supposed to protect human rights, but it’s really hurting the teachers rights now,” says Bum-jun.

Seventeen-year-old Lee Chun Joo agrees. “I think our society needs some kind of punishment to make students change their behavior. Teachers didn’t hit students out of anger; it was to make them better students. They want their students to succeed. This was our tradition,” she explains.

Joo says it was for those reasons that the “stick of love” got its name.

This article was first broadcast on Asia Calling, a regional current affairs radio program produced by Indonesia’s independent radio news agency KBR68H and broadcast in local languages in 10 countries across Asia. Produced in conjunction with the Faculty of Mass Communications at Chiang Mai University. You can find more stories from Asia Calling at