BURIRAM — On Tuesday, 72-year-old Paen Paewpongsong was penniless after losing his 15,000 baht life savings. By Friday, he was a millionaire thanks to donations from strangers throughout the realm who heard about his plight from the news.
The response was so overwhelming that Paen today urged netizens to stop sending him money, saying he already had enough to fix his dilapidated hovel in Buriram and provide comfort to his 69-year-old wife and a 6-year-old, developmentally disabled granddaughter.
Find someone else in need, he suggested.
“I want them to share their help with other people who lack opportunity,” Paen told reporters.
Paen said he lost his wallet containing all his savings of 15,000 baht on Tuesday at a hospital where he was renewing his disability health card for his granddaughter, Arisa, who has Down syndrome.
According to Paen, that money was all they had left after collecting their small welfare benefits and an allowance his children send from another province.
After word spread on social media, donations poured in from people who were moved by his story. By Friday morning the total reached just shy of 1.3 million baht, prompting Paen to say that was enough.
In interviews, Paen has said he also hopes to use some of the money to fix his wooden house for the upcoming winter, which can be harsh and even fatal in the northeast.
Bundit Onsakorn, chief of Buriram City police, said patrols have been dispatched to Paen’s home in order to ward off any potential scammers who might take advantage of his newfound wealth.