The Janusz Korczak International School is one of the many ventures of the Human Development Foundation established by Fr Joe Maier and Sister Maria Chantavaradom in the Klong Toey slums of Bangkok.
On 14th January 2015, Mercy Centre UK Trustee Louanne Richards visited this small school, developed in memory of the progressive educationalist Janusz Korczak, to meet the children, all of whom have special needs.
Paediatrician and writer Janusz Korczak was born in Warsaw in 1874. He believed children could structure their own worlds and become experts for themselves. He built his first Jewish orphanage in 1912.
During the year following Germany's occupation of Poland in 1939, the school was moved into the Nazi-established Jewish enclave, the Warsaw Ghetto. Korczak received many offers of help to escape, but he refused them all because he did not want to abandon the children. In August 1942 he, and around 200 children and a dozen school staff, were deported to Treblinka concentration camp. It's believed he and the children went to their deaths by gas chamber soon after they arrived.
Korczak's courage and unwavering commitment to the children in his care inspires the work at the school in Bangkok. His book Ghetto Diary describes his undiminished sense of responsibility to the children, despite starvation and other privations they suffered.
Khun Branee, the head of the Janusz Korczak school, seen here with one of her helpers.
A portrait of Korczak is on the wall behind them.
Thanks to the great generosity of our many Mercy Centre UK friends, Louanne was able to take a large number of Go To School gift items: pens, crayons and other school equipment, together with cash amounting to 11,700 baht (£255).
Louanne Richards (right), with the children holding their ‘Go to School’ gifts.