FOUNDATION OF THE SCHOOL
The Paintbrush Foundation (previously Khlong Toey Music Program) is a non-profit organization established in October 2012 with the aim of creating positive social change through music and arts.
Inspired by the Playing for Change (PFC) movement and related Playing For Change Foundation (PFCF), the Paintbrush team began by arranging free music lessons once a week for underprivileged kids in the Khlong Toey slum community.
Soon after, PFCF offered its support, and in June 2013, Paintbrush became the 9th music program to be officially endorsed by the Playing For Change Foundation.
Fast forward nine years later, the Paintbrush foundation is open 5 days a week, and teach western music, Thai classical music, visual arts and English to about 70 children.
With over 100,000 inhabitants spread over a densely populated swathe of Southern Bangkok, the Khlong Toey slum is the largest of its community in Thailand. The area was initially developed in the early 20th century around an enormous slaughterhouse, and is now home to Bangkok’s primary shipping port along the Chao Phraya River.
Many of the children who grow up here face daily challenges relating to poverty, domestic violence, teenage pregnancy, drug addiction and alcoholism, just to name a few. Though loving families support and encourage some, a large percentage of children from the Khlong Toey slum encounter obstacles that a child should never have to face.
What drives us
We strive to empower the underprivileged children of the Khlong Toey communities by creating tangible opportunities for education and fostering personal growth through artistic activities.
Co-founder – Director
A musician since the age of 8, Gigi arrived in Bangkok from France in 2009 and first worked as a scientist at Mahidol University. Two years later, searching for something more meaningful, she followed a passion for music and began to formally teach piano. After about six months spent volunteering for different causes, she began to consider ways to have a consistently positive impact on the lives of those in need. Inspired by Playing For Change, she realized that her calling was to help underprivileged children learn music. With a few friends, she decided to found the Paintbrush Foundation in October 2012.
In the past, Por used to work as a company staff and airline staff. After trying to find her own value through hard work and growth within organisations for more than 10 years, Por realised that all the things she did weren’t the answer to the question of her worth in any way. She started to understand that looking after other people also meant looking after her own soul, and that it filled her life with more happiness than any position or amount of money she had ever received. After deciding to become a freelancer, she got the opportunity to work for Paintbrush as an Executive coordinator. She hopes that her previous experience in communication with other organisations will help Paintbrush gain more visibility and thus will be able to help our students further.
Administrator – Art program coordinator
M graduated in Art and Language from university, but his artistic skills had not been properly used for almost a decade as he was working as a tour guide in Bangkok. Then the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, and M, as many other people, had to find a way to fit in the new normal. That is when our school started looking for an administrator. M started working at KTMP in July 2020. He enjoys being around kids and our students immediately adopted him. He very quickly established a trusted relationship with the children and the families, which is key to a strong community program. After a few weeks with us, M also took on the role of art program coordinator and art teacher, and helps around in many different ways.
Nut works as a freelance photographer. She got to know the Paintbrush Foundation through Bo, our vice-president, who originally invited her to help teach English at our school every Wednesday. Nut immediately agreed. She believes that education is a valuable asset, something we can arm children with, something they can carry with them and use to build their future. After teaching English with us for a while, she took on the responsibility of student's counsellor, primarily focusing on helping the kids find their direction in life, through education and career, encouraging them to find what they want to be in the future. Nut says that being part of this program is a gift. She receives a lot of positive energy and love from the children, which makes it a very rewarding experience. Nut wants our students to have the opportunity to learn, to lead their life the way they want to, and to be happy in society, once they get older and become adults.
Voice teacher – Music program coordinator
Pat began to practice singing and play music at 14 years old. He formed a band with his friends and together they performed and entered various contests. He graduated in music majoring in Classical Voice Performance. He has experience in choir singing, music theory, composing and arranging music. For him, besides being a useful skill that can lead to a professional career, music is also a universal language that allows people to communicate beyond barriers. Music also improve people’s mind by helping them to understand one another.
Num started playing music at the age of 7. Her very first teacher was her father. At that time, Num considered music as a real challenge for her skills. She believed that one had to practice very hard in order to become as good as famous artists. She started practicing with the aim of taking the university entrance examination. She dedicated herself to learning, for a "happiness that was only external" to herself. But as time passed, she started thinking differently and music slowly appeared as something beautiful that could make her happy from inside as well. For Num, music is an inspiration and she can also rely on it to guide her spirit. It's for this reason that she wanted to teach the children in Khlong Toey. She believes that during childhood and teenage years, kids need someone to show them the right way. We can't oblige them to follow, but we can use music as a media to show them the direction. Num hopes that music will serve as a protection for them and will allow them to choose and to distinguish how to lead their own life in a good way. After a few years teaching in Khlong Toey, she realized that there is more to being a teacher than just transmitting skills. She learned a lot about the social background of people in the community, and she also learned new ways of working with other people. Teaching to the children of Khlong Toey is a really positive experience for her.
Olive started learning drums at the age of 10, thanks to her father who taught her. She kept practising on her own as she grew up and in high school she developed an interest for guitar as well. She decided to learn further and study guitar as a major for her bachelor degree. Olive graduated in 2016 and at the time didn’t have much experience in teaching music. But since then, she’s become a professional teacher and she’s learned a lot through the process. She feels proud to be able to transfer her knowledge to other people. Teaching brings her happiness and it’s particularly fun to be with children.
Raam graduated with a Bachelor degree in Music. He started playing guitar at 14 years old. One of his neighbours was doing his military conscription at the time and left his guitar at Raam's house, which is how he first tried his hands on an instrument. His first teacher was a songbook, and he kept practising on his own up to the end of high school, where he decided to get more serious about music. He started his own band with his friends at 16 years old and entered competitions. Meeting other talented musicians became a real motivation and made him want to practice even more to develop his skills further. He realized also that the lack of instructor to tell him what to practice, or to show him how to learn, slowed down his progress considerably. He then entered university and met professors who were able to show him the way forward, and was finally able to progress much more quickly. This made him want to be a teacher himself, to become the one who shows the direction to students. After graduating, he started teaching at the Paintbrush foundation, and thus got the opportunity to help students find their own way, to figure out what kind of music they like, and how far they want to go with it. Because Raam knows that music can become a real-life opportunity, and that when the students are older, it can become a source of income for them to support their families.
McKee started playing drums at the age of 14, then changed to bass guitar at the age of 18. From then, he became serious about learning music and decided to enter university. He studied at Thaksin University (Songkhla) for two years, and understood that his interest lied in jazz music, so he applied for Silapakorn University (Bangkok), major Jazz music. He then started to work in the music field, first by playing at Jazz Happen (2010-2020) and in various hotels or jazz clubs. He also won the Silapakorn music award (SMA) in 2010, went on a concert tour with his university in 2013, and joined the TIJC (thailand international jazz conference) in 2018 and 2020. He taught at the Samsen Witthayalay school (2015-2018) as a teaching assistant for orchestra, jazz band and fanfar. Then the Covid-19 pandemic happened and McKee had to stop every activity related to music for a while. He started looking for another job and found out our school was looking for a bass teacher. McKee says that after starting teaching with us, he realized that our organization was not like anywhere else. The kids here have their very own identity. Teaching them brings him a happiness he can't describe. There are other music schools that reached out to him, offering him a better salary, but he decline without hesitation, because he found happiness here, teaching with us.
Karn started learning classical piano at the age of 5 years old at Yamaha music school and studied up to Grade 6 level. He then entered Silapakorn University, and graduated in Music, major Jazz. He has performed in various concerts and used to be the perform with Tangmo the Voice. These days, he is part of the band Cloudy Guy. When he was in university, he got the opportunity to go teach at a school in the countryside. He remembers being very happy to see the kids learning music and having fun in the process. After that he started to look for a place where he could teach underprivileged children and found out about the Paintbrush Foundation. Karn says he is glad to be able to see the kids smiles and hear their laughters again.
Thai classical music teacher
Chim graduated from Chulalongkorn university with a Bachelor degree in Fine and Applied Arts. He started learning Thai classical music in 4th grade. When he saw that all his friends at school were joining the western music club and no one wanted in the Thai classical music club, he decided to enroll for the Thai classical music lessons. Chim wanted to be able to play the traditional music of his country. He gained a lot from learning Thai classical music. He went to places he'd never been before, got to see things he'd never seen, and gained many great friendships. Today, Chim teaches Thai classical music to children, with the hope to preserve his country's culture and make sure it won't be forgotten.
Ping graduated from the faculty of learning sciences and education. Her studies emphasized the importance of creating various learning spaces through the understanding that everyone is different. When she was still a student, she got invited by our former art teacher to join the Paintbrush foundation as a volunteer, and thus witnessed and took part in the creation of a learning space in the Khlong Toey community. It made her understand better what it was all about, and she then accepted to join our foundation on a regular basis, to use visual arts as a learning media and development tool for the children’s creative thinking.
Fang is a primary teacher in Bangkok. She likes art a lot and thus wanted to integrate it in her teaching with young children. She believes that art fosters development in 4 different ways. Through art, children can develop their body by using their hands, eyes, and muscles. They can develop their mood by observing and creating beauty. Besides this, art helps them collaborate with other people by teaching them how to share equipment with others and wait for their turn to use it. It also helps develop their intellect by teaching them about shapes, problem solving. And finally, art invites them to think and gives value to their free time. Fang started working at Paintbrush after being invited by our former art teacher. She wanted to help and play a part in the kids’ development. She hopes that children will enjoy the experience of creating art and sharing it with other people.