Chantal Jauvin worked as a high-powered international attorney negotiating cases in Paris, Buenos Aires and all over the globe. She is the author of “The Boy with the Bamboo Heart,” the story of a street orphan who built a children’s charity.
Coming to you from the Boomer Lounge at the International Airport.
As an attorney, Chantal was a linear thinker who typically did things one step at a time, but life got in the way. After living all over the world, she took time off from her job at Western Union in Denver, Colorado, to spend time with her ailing stepfather and family in Ottawa, Canada.
“I didn’t realize you can actually lose your circadian rhythm.”
During that time, she developed health problems of her own and realized that even though she had a fantastic career it was time for a break., She had traveled all over the world for work, but now wanted to travel for fun so she went to Thailand in March 2010. Her life took a turn when she met Dr. Amporn Wathanavongs (Dr. Amporn) at a children’s charity center she was visiting with her then fiancé who was sponsoring children there. Dr. Amporn was in his early 70’s when she met him. He ran a children’s charity foundation to educate homeless children. Two little girls she met there stole her heart. They were 7 or 8 years old and were outwardly happy and joyful. They proudly wanted to show Chantal their home, which turned out to be on a mound of garbage. It was hard for Chantal to imagine how the girls could be happy living in such dire circumstances.
After returning to the school she had lunch with Dr. Amporn who told her his life story of how he was orphaned at 5 and lured into the Cambodian jungle to be a boy soldier. There was no social welfare system or foster care available and he had to survive on his own. What he wanted most in life was to create a children’s charity that would provide education and make it possible for kids to enjoy their childhood. At the end of their lunch, Dr. Amporn asked Chantal if she would write his life story.
He had been severely traumatized as a boy soldier. A stranger told him to go back to the monks in his boyhood village because they would teach him how to read and write. Back home he began to learn and the world started to open up for him. He befriended a Jesuit missionary who was working in the slums of Bangkok and he took him under his wing. The Jesuits sponsored him to go to the Philippines to have his first formal education in social works when he was in his 20’s.
From then until he was 65, Dr. Amporn did social work. Eventually, a university in Louisiana recognized the work he had done in Thailand and gave him an honorary doctorate in social work.
Dr. Amporn is known as the foster father of 50,000 children. He worked for the Christian Children’s fund in Thailand and went into the far reaches of the country to do case work. When he was 65, the fund required him to retire. He wasn’t happy to hear this because there was much more work he wanted to do. There had also been a financial disaster in Thailand when the Bot crashed. Luckily, Dr. Anporn had his pension payout in U.S. dollars. He took the entire amount and started his own children’s charity.
Through his FORDEC foundation, he is able to provide children with education through high school, a hot meal every day, health care, and vaccinations. Many of the children there have disabilities caused by malnutrition.
When Chantal returned from Thailand later that year, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Fortunately, she had good health care in Philadelphia where she lived. Dr. Amporn’s story of survival inspired her to fight and survive.
She went back to Thailand to recover after her doctor gave her clearance. She credits Thai massage as a huge help to her recovery. A massage a day removes toxins from chemo and other treatments.
Chantal has been in remission for the last 5 years. She is now back in Thailand teaching a course as an adjunct professor in literature and non-fiction works.
Chantal sponsors 4 children herself. She was able to launch her book in Bangkok Nov 2015.
We (the Broads) think it would make a terrific movie so if there are any movie producers out there, please contact Chantal.
Her ovarian cancer was detected in the early stages but many women are not that lucky. She says that sometimes, especially if you’ve been healthy all your life, women dismiss unusual aches and pains as nothing serious. It’s better to see a doctor just in case.
The Ovarian Cancer Circle, run by an acquaintance of the 2 Boomer Broads, helps fund research to eradicate the disease. It’s important to ask your gynecologist to give you a transvaginal ultrasound.
The working title of Chantal’s next book is “Love without Martini’s – The stories of couples in sobriety.”
The Boy with the Bamboo Heart can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and on Chantal’s website www.chantaljauvin.com The author proceeds from all sales will be donated to FORDEC. (the children’s charity founded by Dr. Amporn) We ask that if you purchase the book and read it to please leave Chantal a review.