Dear Donors and Friends,

Excuses for the late update and summary of our trip to Mae Hong Son, but we returned to a shut city and a closed business due to the corona virus so had to focus on work first before taking a day to inform you about the results. But here we go…

The Tho Hare School, what an amazing place! We as volunteers feel privileged to have visited this place with such polite children and passionate teachers.

First some numbers: all together we managed to get 694.115 Baht (20.415 Euro/18.362 GBP) in donations and managed to help 85 children and 8 teachers. The villagers and teachers built 1 dormitory and donated not a 3KW solar cell system, but a 5KW system; thanks to a few late donations.
We donated 4 new toilet/shower rooms and showered the children with 2 toys and 1 teddy bear each. Brand new mattresses, pillows and blankets for the 45 children that sleep at the school and 1 left and 1 right flip flop for all kids. We gave canned food, sports equipment, school material and games.
To conclude, we donated 1 new fridge and 4 brand new playground items, of course with the beloved helicopter! To conclude the numbers: 10 volunteers had 1 perfect trip, we drove 1786 kilometers and had about 2000 baht left which we gave to the head-teacher to buy some more snacks for the kids.

In these difficult times, we feel blessed to give and not to take. When you read about hoarding, or “hamstering” as we call it in Dutch, the opposite is what you, the donors, did for these children. Giving is much more satisfying than taking. We have to give the most sincere and warmest Thank You from the head-teacher Wanchai and his staff. For them to see a group of white people show up in the hard to reach region, to their school, to just give and not try to force a religion upon them, just have fun without strings attached, just donate without demands, is something truly special. You made that possible!

The meaning of Kharma: “The results of a person’s actions as well the actions themselves. It is a term about the cycle of cause and effect. According to the theory of Kharma, what happens to a person happens because they caused it with their actions.”
We hope that your Kharma improves immensely!

A short summary of the preparations and the trip:

It was more difficult this year to get the donations needed to complete the wish-list, but with the wild fire drama in Australia, the ongoing human disaster in Syria and in the last 2 months the upcoming corona virus, we were very happy that in the end we managed to achieve 99.9% of the list!

A special ‘thank you’ to TIAC for their generous donation; this made the upgrade from a 3KW to a 5KW solar system possible right at the last moment. A thank you to other late donors too, who rather stay unnamed, but are in our minds. And a thank you to ALL donors again, as it does not matter if you late or early, every donation made the total project possible.

Because of the lower funds as in previous years, the toilets do not looks as professional as we set our standard, but then again, it’s the functionality that counts and not so much the looks.

The villagers worked in a blistering tempo and within 4 weeks build the dormitory and toilets and that for the most modest fee. It is this kind of local support which gives the village some prosperity that is what we like to achieve. They are happy we support their children, we are happy they do the hard work.

After a few rounds of shopping, we loaded up the pickup truck and it was time to set off. Scott, Noodle, Niels and I drove from Pattaya to Mae Sariang to meet up with Lucy, Mark, Charlie, Gina, Sompong and Tuk at the Riverside hotel and set off to the mountain jungle the next morning; the 15th of March.

The road was less difficult for the experienced volunteer; no boats, no hiking, no bikes; but still hard enough as 4 hours later we came out the pickup trucks like a James Bond cocktail: shaken, not stirred.

The school looked amazing. Spotless clean, well kept, and everything well placed so there was an optimal use of the small space the terrain offered. The location was at the end of the road, about 800 meters high on a mountain ledge. The view was stunning: 280 degrees of mountains and green, about 4 kilometers away from the Salawin River, which forms the border with Myanmar (Birma).

We got a warm welcome and a glass of water. We got settled in, made our beds ready and went for a walk about checking out the dormitory and the toilets and shared smiles with the shy kids.

Noodle and Gina cooked a lovely meal which was enjoyed by the kids, teachers and volunteers. Especially the first two were even happier than us, as their diet is fairly simple and does not have too much meat: so the great meal was gone in a minute.

The next day we got breakfast from “Mr. Breakfast” Scott, this means a full English breakfast with beans, bacon, eggs and sausages. The morning we spent by handing out all the stuff we brought with us: per kid we had a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, towel, baby powder, flip flops, toys and a teddy bear. For the kids that sleep at school we had a blanket, mattress, pillow and mosquito net. It was great to see the kids walking around with a big bag full of their goodies.

In the afternoon the kids made drawings, we had some great games of Jeue de Boule (Pentanque) with some kids and an exciting game of football. Of course lunch and dinner again provided by the KF and created by Noodle and Gina. In the evening we had a few beers and laughs with the teachers.

The 17th we had a sport and games day. The joy in the chair dance, the balloon stomping game, the egg race and the weird cucumber and lemon game was so clear in their cute faces; screams of happiness, tension in their faces and glee in their eyes. And after every game the winner and the contenders got little and big snacks, which were shared, eaten and the energy levels kept rising. It was a great success.

And of course the day couldn’t end without a very serious game of football which closed the sports day and was only stopped after the dinner was on the table. Very tasty spaghetti made by Mr. Breakfast who showed he didn’t only have morning kitchen skills. The next morning we packed our bags and we had to set off early as we had a 17 hour drive in front of us. Conclusion: a PERFECT trip! Thanks to you all ♥

The Kharmateers