“Many children love to see a firefly, they don’t fear the dark and that’s why I chose Hinghoynoy in Thai or ‘tiny firefly’ as my organization’s name.
Thailand is known as the land of smiles, however, in 2015, the Thailand mental health department found that more than one million children and youth are diagnosed with depression. One of the reasons is that children are smallest in the social structure; they are not allowed to talk about their intimate concerns. Many taboos exist in my society, but what is taboo? Taboo is a dark place where nobody wants to go or talk about it.
When I was 12 years old, I saw my father crying with pain because his body was twisted. He was taken to hospital by my mother and everyone else in the family went with them except me, they left me alone. The next morning I went to the hospital and I saw his body cold like a stone, he was dead. In our culture, we have to wear black if someone dies in the family to show respect. So I wore black for 100 days but nobody explained to me how my father died. I had many questions about how my father died, what will happen to us? And many more but don’t know whom to ask.
I remember once, I and my parents went to the book shop together. My parents were not rich but they gave the opportunity to select one children’s book. This is not normal in my country, parents prefer to buy video games more than children book. So after my father’s death I thought a book can help me, so I went to the book shop and I bought one book. When I read that book, I felt the character in the book was the same like me, a girl who lost a parent.
In high school, I fell in love with a girl, I had to hide my sexuality. I was raped by a person who wanted to change me, this is my life and we have a right to love someone.
So in 2016 I came up with my family, we have Transsexuals, we have gays and I happen to be a lesbian. I graduated in children book literature.” – Ruangtup Kaeokamechun, Thailand, 2018 kanthari participant Topics like death, divorce, and sexual orientation are considered taboos in Thai society. Ruangtup eventually found console through a fiction book about death. Since then, she made it her mission to create children’s books that openly discuss ‘sensitive’ topics and help children face the realities of life.