Jomtien, Thailand 9-2-2015
Dear supporters of the Kharma Foundation,
We have concluded the 8th project, the 8th year, the project “The Deep South”.
A few figures to start with… the 4 goals to achieve this year were:
1. improving the quality of life for the kids
2. Changing the attitude of the children towards school and the future
3. Increase relationships between school-army-community
4. Trying to achieve a positive result so other foundations will dare to go here
We had 16 volunteers for this year with a few cancellations and one or two last moment additions; 4 Schools in 6 days; over 800 kids; over a 800 kilometers traveled within the 4 provinces of Songkla, Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat; the highest amount of donations reached in our history of over a 1,000,000 Baht; countless happy villagers; proud and happy soldiers and their commanders up to the general of the 4th region; hundreds of stories; thousands of smiles.
May we proudly say it has been a success! The Kharma Family has reached a new height. Not that other years were less, not at all, but I feel that this year we managed to excel and to be different than all others.
In a world where everyone seems to have a (negative) opinion about Muslims lately and where a small bunch of evil men hold a world and a religion hostage for their own gain and sickening views of other humans, we as a small bunch of volunteers tried to make a different and positive sound.
A sound and a signal to the children that have been living in a surreal area of Thailand where there has been a civil war between religious freaks/criminals and the Thai army. These children have lost their parents, family members and/or friends. A signal to the parents and villagers that not all foreigners or people of other religions or of no religion are evil as some of the hate preachers try to make them believe. A sound to the people hiding in the shadows that we as outsiders have not forgotten these children that are caught in a sick adult game of power and death. A signal to the army that guns and bullets alone will not solve this problem, but genuine help from sincere people will be a big part of the answer… A sound that can be heard by friends and foes: the Kharma Family is small but not afraid.
Did I have my worries before? I would be lying if I said no. I think every volunteer was a bit tenser this year over previous years. Nion and I both had our worries: worries about the safety of the volunteers, worries about the reactions of the villagers and ‘the people in the shadows’. The collaboration with the army and the previous visits of Nion to the schools took away the worries bit by bit, but closer and closer to the day of leaving my head was spinning with both positive and negative thoughts.
A few volunteers canceled their trip, some with understandable reasons of work, but I can imagine some also due to the healthy fear of own life and limb. We are happy these people made their own choices and are happy these volunteers have helped us in years before and hopefully in the years to come.
But we are amazingly proud of all the volunteers that did show up. They found that the goals we tried to achieve were more important than their worries, and believed Nion that the safety would be as much as possible guaranteed by the good guys of army Special Forces Unit Suntisuk.
I like to thank these heroes! We had the familiar faces like Michal, Heide, Michelle, Scott, Andrew, Neung and of course Nion. And the new faces of Edwin, Woot, Ray, Nick, Radoslaw, Poom, Top and Noodle.
We all like to thank the army lieutenant colonel Natthagarn also known as Mr. Act; the leader of the troops to protect us, and his brave men. A thank you to the commander of the Suntisuk unit Colonel Chalit Puangmaleepradap. They did not only make us feel safe, but also had a great interaction with the children and villagers. From the famous rope pull and other games to helping us painting and construct, they have been versatile and they have been our protecting angels. The army also helped with transporting all the goods which saved us a huge amount in transport fees.
It was great to see that our presence created such a wave that not only Channel 5 news came on two separate days but also the 4th regional Army Commander, the top of the top, came to see it for himself. He was impressed by the projects and complimented us that this had never happened before.
A thank you as well to the National Thai Railways for delivering all our goods for free in two completely packed and overloaded train carts.
We also like to thank each and every donor that supported this year. We had a seemingly unachievable target but you still believed in us and supported us. There are too many donors to mention all but we like to pick a few that have gone out of their way to make this year happen. The companies we like to thank are Syndicatum and Michelle; Parker Bridge via Richard and their 4 volunteers Edwin, Woot, Ray and Poom; BrainTrainerPlus and Hendrik; Vetz Petz and Kevin & Meji; Vizrt and khun Ju; SLC and nong Mui; the foundation Care 4 Kids and Woody & Ray and private donor Michal. But as said, each and every donation, small, big or huge has helped us, so our many thanks goes out to all of you.
This year we try to motivate the volunteers to write their stories and their emotions in their own language. We had (of course) Thai, English, Australian, Taiwanese, Irish, Dutch, Malaysian, French and German volunteers, so it has been a multi-national group of good hearted people. These stories will be added to the website www.kharmafoundation.com and also many pictures will be added over the next few weeks and months.
Of course I will add some photos with this letter so you can all get an impression of what was done with your donations and what we have seen.
I would like to finish this letter to you with bits out of a ‘thank you’ note to all volunteers received from Nion after we returned home safely. It shows a bit of the impact we created and the gratitude we have towards our volunteers.
Dear Kharma family,
This morning I received some calls from the girls from Islahuddin School; the difficult school we all visited together. They all told me that they miss you all very much. They all don’t eat the snacks they got as their rewards. They said they don’t want eat it because they can look at it when they think about us. They keep it to remind about us that we have been there. Afterward they asked Neung’s number and also called her to say that they miss us all.
Not only that, so far many girls and boys texting, posting and telling the soldiers that they want us to go back there again. They all miss us. Some of them trying to practice English with me because they want to communicate with you. I wish you could read Thai so I can show you those messages, I sent many of them to the military already
I told you these stories just because I’m very thankful for what you all did. These are the things money can’t buy. One of the goals was to create ‘curiosity’ for them and to realize the world is bigger. The results are more than expected. I want to bow and say thank you for you all a 1,000 times. I have you all as volunteers and many sponsors to help us achieved the goals.
Do you realize you all are the superstars down those provinces already? One more story is the reaction from the military from other units when they had a big meeting together. Some of military leaders said that what we did is saving the country. Do you realize how much people appreciating this!? Because of there was ‘NO ONE’ trying to do this such a thing before.
I’m really happy we did it together. I’m so thankful that I have a chance to know you all and really appreciate your efforts to help. I’m overwhelmed with the result what we achieve together. Thank you thank you thank you. Khop Khun mâak mâak ka.
Be proud of yourself. And I’m really proud of you all. I can’t come up with the beautiful English words, but I want you to know khop Khun mâak mâak from bottom of my heart ka.
This shows the impact we have had on the children, but also the impact the volunteers had on the founder Nion and she was speaking for me too. No matter how big or small the group, it’s the spirit, the energy and the love of the volunteers that made this year such a success.
May I conclude once more from my comfortable couch in my nice house living in moderate luxury to all of you that are living in similar conditions that what I have seen this year, the poverty that these kids have to endure and the horrible circumstances that is the daily life in that area that this year has made me the most proud ever that I founded this Kharma Family of ours. I thank Buddha for the amazing support this little movement has been given by you all, and via this mail one more time I want to put the spot light on Nion who has excelled this year over other years, from all of the supporters of the KF: Thank you!
Any other organization or foundation that would like to help this region, please contact the Suntisuk Unit. If people come together in this region to help the children, we could possibly change the future for a more positive one in this region and who knows…
There are still so many things we want to do for both kids and the people that take care of them, and luckily we have some money left so more updates will follow. For now, just items like mattresses, pillows and towels have made a huge difference for children that never had such ‘luxury’.
More stories, impressions and photos will follow. For now I am sitting here with a smile and a proud feeling. No arrogance, no self-indulgent… just extremely proud of the volunteers and proud of the support of the donors.
School 1 : Darulhikma, Narathiwas
A: construction= new toilets
B: giving school, sport and food goods for kids and school
C: activity = teaching + sport day
School 2 : Tadiga Mabuwoh, Narathiwas
A: construction = renovating class rooms
B: giving school and sport stuff for kids and food supplies for school + playground
C: activity = teaching + sport day
School 3 : Issarahuddin, Songkhla
A: construction = renovating girls dorm
B: giving sport equipment, food and study material for kids and school
C: activity = teaching + sport day + big cleaning day + veggies gardening competition
School 4 : Jaroensaat, Yala
A: construction = new boys dorm
B: giving sport equipment, food and study material for kids and school + extra kindergarten school
C: activity = teaching + sport day + big cleaning day
Stuff we donated via our Kharma Family members:
- 1000 kilos of rice
- 1000 bags of vermicelli
- 1000 underwear and clothing
- 2 playgrounds
- Gardening tools and seeds
- 2060 bags of sanitary napkin
- 6 ceiling fan
- 1010 towels
- 12 small tables and 12 book shelves
- 1,000 toothbrushes
- 1000 underwear
- 1,000 buckets + 1,000 soaps
- Paint for toilets and sleeping quarters
- 1 Cooler tank
- Sporting equipment for 4 schools
- 170 mattresses
- 50kg of detergent
- 40 big cooking spoons
- 600 bra’s
- 2,000 notebooks
- 100 boxes of color pencil
- 200 cans of canned fish
- 20 brooms
- Snacks for 4 schools
- 20 kitchen knives
- 10 cutting boards
- 1,000 bags of snacks
- 3,200 pens and pencils
- 1,000 rulers
- 50 liters of fish sauce
- 50 Kg of sugar
- 50 liters of cooking oil
- 50 liters of soy sauce
- 40 Kg of salt
- 18 water bottles
- 2 lunch boxes
- 12 puppets
- 2 umbrellas
- 17 handbags
- Roofing for soldier huts (private sponsor)