Published: November 8th 2007November 7th 2007
I connected again with ChildTrac and went to visit them again this week.
This organization is an offshoot of the original D-Trac which set up operations here in Thailand soon after the Tsunami. ChildTrac works specifically with children’s needs. “The organization works to protect and safeguard the rights and wellbeing of children…irrespective of race, gender, or status.”
Simply stated their role is to trace and safeguard children. Of the 2,500-3,000 estimated Thai orphans and additional 1,000 Burmese migrant orphans and children, only about 2,000 have been registered. Fewer yet have received any formalized aid.
The reality of this is striking.
In my times here since the Tsunami, I have learned a lot about how not to do things…namely, that aid needs to be organized and it needs to be planned so it becomes sustainable. The benefits of this can be enormous because the ability to track its affect and effect exists with constant communication.
I traveled back to Ban Niang two days ago for two reasons: To find out what help I could be with ChildTrac again and to see how best to organize my own funds, projects and enthusiasm and contacts to be of the
Creating a foundation is something I have wanted to do for a while, but unlike my usual way of doing things, I haven’t just “done it”. I wanted to make sure what I created would be useful and not just a stack of business cards in a drawer.
Working with my contacts here, I’ve started to develop my foundation, which I will be registering in Canada as a charitable non-profit organization. The intent is to keep the overhead to a minimum by working simply with what I have. I’ll post a blog once it’s put together, but it’s to be called the “Grass Path Foundation”. Arguably a simple name but it has a meaning here in Thailand and is an easy title to remember for English speakers.
Next week I will be heading into Ban Niang again for a few days. I’ll be visiting two small “villages” tucked into the mountains behind the town where a number of Burmese refugees are living. ChildTrac is attempting to assist them with a few basic necessities, one of which is to equip the shanty town with supplies to work with the children. By making toys and playthings for
the children who currently spend hours playing with rusty cans and sticks, the effort of seeing what small toys I can bring along will be a tearful experience.
If things seem possible, I plan on taking on some responsibility for the project through ChildTrac and helping through the new foundation on an ongoing basis. The intention is to coordinate efforts in the beginning to ensure the basic needs are met. The “Migrant Project” will be the first ChildTrac supported project that Grass Path Foundation (Tahng Ya Phraek in Thai or (YPF)) takes on. It will assist in the enormous task of ensuring some initial clothing, playthings and bedding reaches the migrant children living under inadequate and appalling conditions…even by poverty standards.
With cash donations/purchase of good in Thailand and the collection of used clothing and light blankets from Canada that can be shipped and distributed, hopefully a small impact can be made in the lives of these kids.
I also connected with the Tsunami Volunteer Centre
just outside of Khao Lak centre. Goi, the operator and English speaking guide for the organization offered me a chance to spend a day working with them to see what they do and how they operate. During the school months, the volunteers can teach English in small lessons at a number of under-priviledged schools and community centres. During the school holidays, projects include teaching English to tourism and hospitality workers. After describing my project with Joo’s English School, I offered to help for a day to see how they taught their classes.
We left fairly early and went to an empty community centre tucked away in Ban Niang village. The classes are taught on an open basis to whom ever is available and interested. The focus is on conversational English for hospitality. By using instructional pamphlets that contain sets of circumstances and key English phrases, a lesson is fashioned out of student face to face conversations and practice.
I was able to teach seven “students” from local hotels and tour agencies for a day. Despite being a huge amount of fun and the day filled with laughs, I was able to see what worked and what didn’t and take this information away with me. It will be of enormous help to fashion the lesson plans for Joo’s English School. As well, I have good ideas now for visual “props” that we can create for her classes.
Malie and Buud spent most of the day swimming in the hotel pool as one of the staff “Pee Noi” adopted them for the day. The Community Centre was basically next door to the Motive Cottage Resort where we stayed for two nights.
The rest of our brief stay in Ban Niang included letting the kids romp on their favorite “best beach in anywhere” for the afternoon. In between completing my University applications and meeting with ChildTrac, there wasn’t much else to do except shop in Khao Lak…an activity I greatly DISLIKE.
We did hit the market fair (held all month long in most villages in honor of the King’s birthday this month) in the evening in Ban Niang and Miles and Marrin managed to wrangle an hour of “bouncy castle” and other fair rides out of my weekly budget. (CDN .75 each ride)
The best part of this trip was actually getting there and back. We took the motocyc this time…a full half hour drive at 70 km/h. The kids were awesome and behaved on the bike wonderfully! As usual though, I am happy to be “home”.