Meet Aunampai, Founding Director of Dhammajarinee Witthaya School
Acharn Yai Maechee Aunampai, Director of Dhammajarinee Witthaya School, was born in 1965 in Ayutthaya, Thailand.
When she was 20, Aunampai became ill and went into a coma for three days. Doctors could not determine the cause of her illness and were certain she would die. However, she did emerge from the coma, and afterward a respected monk told her, “I am advising you to become a Buddhist nun for three months in order to extend your life span.” Aunampai was ordained as a nun several months later and enjoyed ‘tamboon’, doing acts of service for merit, so much that she wanted to continue as a nun.
Aunampai completed the equivalent of a BA, four years of Buddhist Study at the temple Wat Kak Nam. Upon graduation her teacher suggested that she work on an independent social project with other independent nuns, helping girls in poverty outside of Bangkok.
In the beginning, there was one small building and their group joined other nuns and worked with the 20 in-residence girls all aged 13. Using the government curriculum designed for adults who had never been to school, Aunampai taught every subject and the girls also practiced agriculture to help sustain themselves. It was from these humble beginnings that Aunampai eventually founded Dhammajarinee Witthaya School (DWS).
DWS eventually became a regular school, using the government approved curriculum for children along with traditional Buddhist studies. Along with the work of running the school, Aunampai got her Masters degree in Buddhism from the University of Pachapat Suan Dusitto and was soon formally approved as director.
Due to increasing standards for educators in Thailand, Acharn Yai decided to undertake a PhD in Education. Once again she completed her studies while directing the activities of the school and planning for the ever growing number of students.
Acharn Yai will receive her doctorate at the end of August, 2017. With this new honor, Acharn Yai becomes Acharn Maechee, Teacher Nun.
DWS is a testament to Aunampai's compassion and determination and the students feel this deeply. They call her "Acharn Yai," which means "highest teacher." When asked about Acharn Yai, one student recently said that she "is like my second mother. From the very beginning when she picked me up to attend the school she has given me everything. I feel so blessed by her and this school."