Giving the Gift of Knowledge
Behavioral Health nurse builds library for Thailand village

Thais dedicate library to its benefactor, Behavioral Health nurse Panee Mancharoen Coffin

In PhanomSarakham Village in Central Thailand is a soaring new edifice that seems to take wing at the end of the local high school.

It is an open and airy library named for the native daughter who was the sole contributor to its construction--Panee Mancharoen Coffin.

Panee, better known to us for her 20 years as a nurse and unit coordinator in Mid Coast Hospital's inpatient Behavioral Health unit and as a retired major in the US Army Nurse Corps Reserve, does not speak much about the service she has provided over the years to her home town.

She recalls happy memories of growing up in PhanomSarakham Village, and a “comfortable and adventuresome life.” She rode water buffalos after school and much admired the work of her father, a “barefoot doctor,” who served the community and helped rear her and five brothers and sisters.

School, then, was a one-room wooden structure. In high school, Panee won a writing contest for her village and province. She used part of the cash award to buy books for her school and gave the rest to her parents.

The books were kept in one corner of the school, and Panee vowed: "One day, I’m going to build a library for the school."

Last November her dream was realized with the opening of the library adjoining what is now a 3,000-student high school.

“I love education and learning and wanted others to have the same opportunity,” she said of her contributions. In 2001, prompted by the same motivation, she provided funds for a new elementary school.

“One person can make a big difference,” she said.

“I work hard and believe in giving back to my country, contributing to the good cause to help children in Thailand.”

As part of the ceremonies, Panee addressed students who are following in her footsteps and listened to the local marching band, which she helped outfit.

PHOTOS by Panee Mancharoen Coffin

Panee joins members of her high school marching band, above.

Dedication ceremony for the new library which is named after its benefactor. “One person can make a difference,” Panee says. “I believe in giving back to help children in Thailand.” The Thai words on the library’s website banner read “Panee Mancharoen.”

Beautiful landscaping graces the entry to the new library,whose upswept roofline allows natural light to bathe the interior. The library now has six computer terminals and its own website—