Close-Up

Phi­lan­thropist and so­cial leader Sak­son Rouypirom talks to Ploy­lada Suchar­i­tachan­dra about giv­ing back through his non-profit’s col­lab­o­ra­tive work with the un­der­priv­i­leged

Thailand Tatler - - CONTENTS -

Sak­son Rouypirom on ac­tivism for the good of so­ci­ety, and school founder Phan­naroj Chal­it­porn on the need for prac­ti­cal ed­u­ca­tion for the very young

Gen­er­a­tion t lis­ter Sak­son Rouypirom of Sati non-profit says his com­pas­sion for those in need was fos­tered at a young age. Al­though born and raised in the United States, he grew up in an en­vi­ron­ment with very Thai val­ues. “My mother [So­pit] taught me about help­ing oth­ers. So from early on I was cer­tain that I needed to achieve some­thing not just for my­self, but for the pur­poses of giv­ing back,” ex­plains the 39-year-old, ad­ding that his fa­ther, Sin­chai, also in­flu­enced this am­bi­tious mind­set. “He in­stilled in me the be­lief that I had to work hard, that noth­ing was go­ing to be handed to me on a plate.”

With those val­ues, Sak­son later ac­quired a pre-medicine de­gree in psy­chol­ogy from New York Uni­ver­sity. “But I came to re­alise that ev­ery­one could help one an­other in their own ways,” he says. Thus, he de­cided against fur­ther­ing a doc­tor’s ca­reer path, and around six years ago re­turned to Thai­land to es­tab­lish Sati ( sati be­ing a Bud­dhist Pali word that means mind­ful­ness). “Orig­i­nally, I wanted to make it like Doc­tors With­out Borders, but later re­alised that wasn’t nec­es­sar­ily the best so­lu­tion,” he says. Sati de­fies the tra­di­tional model of a do­na­tion-based non-profit, act­ing in­stead as a col­lab­o­ra­tive plat­form for peo­ple with varying oc­cu­pa­tions and back­grounds want­ing to help those in need. “We fo­cus on pre­ven­tive con­cerns, on im­prov­ing healthcare and ed­u­ca­tion through dif­fer­ent medi­ums and ac­tiv­i­ties,” he says.

As Sati is not a do­na­tion-based char­ity, the full-time phi­lan­thropist was keen on try­ing to find a sus­tain­able way to keep money flow­ing in and was there­fore in­ter­ested in so­cial en­ter­prises. This led to him even­tu­ally part­ner­ing with ve­gan restau­rant Broc­coli Rev­o­lu­tion and co-found­ing art space Case Space Rev­o­lu­tion, both of which give a per­cent­age of their prof­its back to the com­mu­nity via the foun­da­tion.

One of the or­gan­i­sa­tions Sati works closely with is The Hub Saidek, a shel­ter for the Hua Lumphong com­mu­nity where prob­lems as­so­ci­ated with drugs and pros­ti­tu­tion pre­vail. Here, with the help of prom­i­nent vol­un­teers and col­lab­o­ra­tors—sev­eral of whom are also fa­mil­iar faces on Thai­land Tatler’s Gen­er­a­tion T list—Sati en­gages in ac­tiv­i­ties rang­ing from art ther­apy and film and pho­tog­ra­phy pro­grammes to Muay Thai classes. “We use the ac­tiv­i­ties to ed­u­cate street chil­dren on the im­por­tance of healthcare, san­i­ta­tion and cre­ativ­ity. We want to nur­ture a sense of value within them and let them know that they do have choices in their lives,” says Sak­son.

The non-profit also as­sists sev­eral schools in ru­ral Chi­ang Rai. Among its var­i­ous ini­tia­tives is the Sati Water Fil­ter project, which has im­proved water san­i­ta­tion for sev­eral thou­sand chil­dren and vil­lagers in the north. The foun­da­tion also has a schol­ar­ship pro­gramme. “Our first schol­ar­ship stu­dent was in eighth grade and wanted to be a phar­ma­cist. She is now in her fourth year at phar­macy school,” Sak­son smiles.

His free time is spent keep­ing up with his other pas­sions. “I like phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity—I work out a lot and go to Muay Thai train­ing a cou­ple of times a week,” says the bach­e­lor. An art en­thu­si­ast, he has a soft spot for pho­tog­ra­phy and owns a small col­lec­tion of art­works, mostly the ab­stract medium by Thai artists. “But I also like to read, even if it’s only a cou­ple of pages a day.” How has run­ning Sati changed him? “I’m re­minded on a daily ba­sis how lucky I am,” he says. “I get a lot more out of it than the chil­dren do. They give me per­spec­tive. What has changed me the most is prob­a­bly the com­par­i­son of hard­ships— noth­ing in my life has been any­where near as hard as some of the things street chil­dren have to go through.”

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