The Moms


Phueng is 56 years old, married with two grown-up sons. Phueng is a qualified teacher and her husband is the pastor in a nearby church. She has been working in Baan Phak Phing for 18 years. The first 12 years as mother and leader of one of the girls’ houses and later as overall manager together with two other leaders. Although she has also taken on the role of administrative worker she is still very much involved with the girls.

“In 2004 my husband got a new job in Chiang Rai while we were still living in the province of Phrae, which is about 200 km away from Chiang Rai. This meant we were temporarily living apart as a family. One day my husband met the girls and members of staff at Baan Phak Phing and it turned out they were looking for new staff to expand the team. At first the idea was to recruit people for the new house, yet to be opened, for girls from 6 to 12 years old. I was quite keen, but more on working with teenagers than with younger girls. I considered it. Despite the fact that I was a qualified teacher and also working as one I did not want to pursue this and so this job offer was well-timed. When I contacted Baan Phak Phing a position opened up in the house for teenagers and so in January 2005 I started working for Baan Phak Phing. After my first year the leader of the house where I worked, left to follow a course. I was asked to take over as leader, because the others did not consider themselves suitable for the job. I went for it even though I had only been working at Baan Phak Phing for a year.

To outsiders the girls come across as regular teenagers, but after a year of intensive working and living with them you see the deep wounds in their lives. Slowly they start showing themselves bit by bit. Sometimes it takes three years before you really know a girl through and through. And despite their recovery they will never forget their past. That’s why it is so important to have staff who are devoted to work here for a long time. For staff members it is often hard to understand the girls’ different behaviour. We see that the love we try to give doesn’t always get through to the girls due to an emotional wall while they need it so badly to survive.

I really enjoy my work with the girls and now also as an administrative worker. The work forms a challenge. What will the future hold for the girls? What will they become? The most difficult aspect is managing everything, how to solve things well and maintain the team spirit.

I would like to work here for years to come. I would like to see new staff grow in this job and together prepare the girls for the future.”


How long have you been working at House of Refuge?
I started on April 16 in 2001, so as of this year 2023 it’s a grand total of 22 years.

What is your position at House of Refuge?
I work at the house called Shalom with three more staff. I am the leader at Shalom. And together with three others I lead House of Refuge in its entirety.

What do you like about working at House of Refuge?
I have always wanted to work with children but to really answer the question I am going to have to give you some background information about my life.
I personally had a good childhood. I am the youngest of seven. My father passed away before I turned one and I have missed him all my life. In my family I had the privilege of experiencing exceptional love and I know for sure that I was placed in this family so that later I could share this love with the girls at Baan Phak Phing.

Later, when I had already become an adult, I worked together with a family that did volunteer work in a city more than three hours away from home. I was able to help them with accounting amongst other things. This place was very special but it was not THE place. I longed to work with young children. One day my brother pointed out that Baan Phak Phing, in Chiang Rai, was looking for staff. This was only 40 minutes away from home, so I applied for the job. I wanted to work near my childhood home so that I could take care of my mother, so this would be a great job opportunity. After two weeks they called me and offered me the job. I wouldn’t work with young children but with teenagers.

After two years of working there I was supposed to go do a special course but it was suddenly cancelled. Then I got the opportunity to work in a Refugee Camp together with my aunt. I would get a good job and my own car but it just didn’t feel like the right place for me. When they called and asked me if I wanted to come back to Baan Phak Phing I knew that that was the place I was supposed to be. Four years later I did the course.

From the moment that the house for girls with ages 6 to 12 opened in 2006, I have worked there. That is where my heart lies.
Nowadays all three houses have all the ages mixed together. This means that the ages are no longer separated and that the kids who live in the house where I work will continue living there. Now I get to see the young girls become teenagers and that is truly amazing.