Thailand: Nualnoy Timkoon

Peace would become just rhetoric without real attempts to help needy children attain education. Without education, they have to live from hand to mouth, and then how can we all live in peace?"

— Nualnoy Timkoon

Nualnoy Timkoon, better known as "Kru Noy" (Teacher Noy) was born in 1944, one of 13 children, in Meenburi, Bangkok. The family lived in abject poverty, and early in life, Noy had to earn a living taking on any available job. Her experience of poverty inspired her to help vulnerable and marginalized children in urban areas, an advocacy she took up in 1980. "Ban Kru Noy" (Kru Noy's Home) was registered as a childcare center with the Department of Social Welfare in 1987. Kru Noy worked by herself for ten years before funders and organizations offered to help in various ways.

Nualnoy Timkoon, or Kru Noy, lived with her husband in an orchard area in the Ratburana neighborhood of Bangkok, a mega city that draws people needing jobs from everywhere. 13 years ago, Ratburana was a hub for all kinds of menial labor where a large number of migrant workers and their families built their homes on private land until they were evicted. In 1980, while staying home due to frail health, Kru Noy began helping marginalized children. Semi-paralyzed and unable to walk properly, she was attended by an eight-year old boy when her husband went to work. The migrant children in the neighborhood roamed the fruit orchards and randomly picked produce without asking permission, and the owners used sticks or slingshots to chase them away. But in her orchard, Kru Noy waved them to come closer. Soon she opened her house as a refuge where she fed the children and taught them how to read and write. Word of her kindness spread, bringing in more children who sought her help and her expenses grew. Undeterred by a lack of resources, she borrowed money to support her initiative. She was determined to help all children attain the same opportunity to become good citizens. Ten years later, when word of her work had spread, material support began pouring in to Ban Kru Noy Child Care Center. She mounted a campaign to pressure state schools to accept vulnerable children and thus give them equal educational opportunities with or without evidence to prove they were born in Thai territory. In 1991, the government began allowing children without birth certificates to enroll in state schools. Many of the children she supported have graduated from university and have returned to help her at the Center. Kru Noy’s work knows no end. She has very little private life, as she devotes herself entirely to increasing the opportunities for children who are neglected by society.

Ban Kru Noy Child Care Center