There is something magical about locomotives -- maybe I've watched too many episodes of "Thomas the Train" with my five-year-old nephew, Drew who is entranced by the choo-choo sounds and shiny blue box cars carefully crafted to match the cheery music.
But for thousands of destitute, despondent and impoverished children left to fend for themselves on the streets of Bangkok, Thailand, there is deeper meaning to the real locomotives they call home. The "Library Train" is a heart-wrenching and inspiring story where trains are transformed in temporary shelters and learning centers for homeless children. A special place that inspires and gives hope to many needy children living in the slums of Bangkok.
In 1999, Railway Police commander Jarumporn Suramanee started a daily three-hour program in Bangkok's train station to teach homeless children the basic life skills they were never taught.
Soon after, junk-yard box cars were brought back to life and transformed into colorful, learning centers and a temporary shelter, packed with books and activities for many children who had nothing: no family, no friends and no hope. Now, 10 railway police officers are making it their mission to serve, protect, provide shelter and educate the children, instead of fighting them in the all-too-common clashes in the slums of Bangkok between the cops and the youth.
Jaran, now 17 years-old, was abandoned as an infant and left for dead in a garbage dump. He was later found by his grandfather, who cared for him until he passed away, leaving Jaran homeless with no family, no friends and no support. He had nowhere to go and began to sniff glue to help to escape and forget about the pain. Kittima, a railway police officer found Jaran, brought him back to the Library Train, cared for him and helped him find a job on a dairy farm milking cows as a way to raise money to survive and move beyond his situation. Jaran now refers to Kittima as his father.
Meanwhile, Kiet says he ran away from a violent environment, after being brutally beaten by his own family members. He wandered the streets of Bangkok alone in search of food, shelter and hope. He spent much of his time trying to avoid the police -- however, it was a police officer who became his saving grace. One day, while rummaging garbage cans for recyclables, he met Chatchai, a railway cop who promised to take him to a safe place. Kiet was brought to the Library Train where he was reacquainted with his older brother, Kop, who ran away from home years earlier and never thought they would reunite again.
This video, created by Barbara Grandvoinet, my filmmaker friend, takes us on a journey of hope -- through this story of The Children of The Train. (Get a tissue handy.)
While researching a family trip to Thailand, Barbara ran across this inspiring story of hope -- and what's possible. She contacted the organizers of the Library Train and wanted to help. Barbara then decided to make a film, www.ChildrenOfTheTrains.com, featuring this amazing program. A big thank you to Barbara for sharing your story with Go Inspire Go. And our ongoing prayers to the Library Train leaders and the innocent children who continue to search for hope... Like the founder of the Library Train, Barbara wanted to use her gifts -- of capturing stories on film to inspire others to do what they can to help the children of the trains.
What can you do?