The Christmas Action 2009 of ‘the Kharma Foundation’ ‘
Ho ho ho, and merry merry Christmas to all you around the world!
Here we are, at the ending of 2009; another year gone by. Another Christmas action of the Kharma Foundation, which only exists due to your help.
What a great response we had from you. I was worried that this year would be a problem year due to all the problems in the world. Financially the world seems to be doing a bit better, and you have shown that the good in people is so much stronger than the problems created by the American housing market and the Madoff’s etc.
With all your money, close to 4 thousand euro’s (!), the team, Nion and I helped this year again by Paul and Tip went shopping on a Thursday. We had flown into Chiang Mai the night before and had a friendly welcome as ever. First we met up with the two very friendly volunteer teachers that are running the school. They were absolutely amazed we showed up, and that what we talked about was really going to happen.
Mind you, places like this never get any help. The government pays them 10 baht per kid per day for all. That is food, school, sleep, but also anything else they need or the teachers need. 10 baht is 20 euro cents!
We had a big shopping list, of course toys, but also food, school material like books, pens, etc. We wanted to buy outdoor material for the kids to play on and to get their well needed exercise.
But we also needed adult stuff to keep the school running. We found a shop that sold the big car batteries and the owner liked our goal and donated one for free, plus free fluid to fill them up when they fail to work longer.
The toys were all for sharing. Monopoly-kind of games, badminton rackets, Frisbee’s, balls; all so the kids can play with each other.
We went to a book store to create our own library, and so we did. The bookstore staff was surprised of two huge loads of books we bought. Mostly children books and learning material, but also two huge maps of the world, of Thailand and of animals and plants. I could not help myself to buy two books about Holland, of my own money! So there will be very tiny hill tribe kids learning about tulips and windmills!! 😀
Next step was the outdoor equipment. We all remember as kids we loved climbing, sliding, and playing with other kids. We found a cheap store/factory that creates their own climbing stuff, see pics. After a hard time bargaining, the lady would not give an inch, we left with four pieces.
On return home to Paul and Tip’s house, the goods from Bangkok had arrived. It did not look that much stacked in my spare bedroom, but when you see it all stalled out in the car park I suddenly realized we did quite well.
There were boxes of books, loads of dry food and a 50 kilo rice bag donated by the school where Nion works, thank you Berlitz Sukhomvit; we had loads of clothing and a lot of stuff from a kind donator, Mr. Sunpawishu. He gave the kids a stereo with speakers, a computer and loads of other stuff.
The blankets that were donated by a very kind sir in Schiedam had arrived a day earlier and just to see those huge packages was a happy sight. And I should not forget the huge amounts of jackets bought by Nion and her sister. They had a golden deal, approx 400 jackets from Japan, for a bargain price. Tip with some help, washed them all before we would give them to the kids.
All and all, we had a good stack of gifts to give.
D-day, 8 o’clock in the morning
The troops Paul had arranged have arrived. Three very friendly men, all three armed with a big pick up truck. We loaded all the stuff we had onto the pick ups, but we had too much. Thinking of the first year we did the Christmas action, we loaded it all in the back of a taxi. How it has grown, thanks to you all!!
Luckily the lorry came by the house that has picked up the outdoor equipment in the morning. All the other goods we loaded in the lorry. The teachers came to help and around 9 the caravan set off to the hills. In hind sight, the teachers had predicted a travel time of about 3 hours, but this turned out to be 5 and a half hour.
It was a long drive. First we had to cross mount Doi Inthanon, and from there it was another 2 and half hour over rocky roads. During the stop we bought all kinds of seeds etc. for the veggie garden, plus material to keep the hogs out of the garden.
In January when we return this should be up and running, plus the new to be build chicken farm.
Old mudslides, huge boulders that fell from over hanging mountains, cracks and disappearing asphalt, deep cliffs, my friends I can tell you, I have never been on such a road. The countryside was stunning. Mountain range after mountain range; an awesome sight.
The first hill tribe woman we saw, I can only say it was like a post card. An old woman in traditional clothing, black teeth and a big pipe in the corner of her mouth. She looked amazed by the caravan of white people, but treated us with a big old smile.
I can write loads about the journey but I will keep it reasonably short, as you probably have more things to do.
On arrival at the school it was a happy sight. All the kids had their ‘uniforms’ on and gave us their custom huge smiles. Of course a bit shocked also, it does not happen often in this part of the jungle filled hills you suddenly have 5 white dudes in your village. And especially me got a few looks, as I am the size of about 6 or 7 of these kids. Maybe the ginger beard wasn’t very helpful neither haha.
We unpacked all the stuff and loaded it in a little shack, what turned out to be store room and library. The only way you would have guessed is due to the three empty shelves. The will not be empty much longer!
Tip had bought a ton of banana cake and brownies, so first the kids got a little taste of a sugar rush. They loved it! Then the kids got lined up for the handing out of the jackets, sponsored by Nion. We got some great pics of the kids in the jackets. I loved the boy in his cool bomber jacket.
The lorry got lost, what was disappointing, so we were not there when the climbing toys arrived. But we are going back in January to finalize stuff so we will see it then.
In January the chicken farm will be build. We thought of the old saying, give a man a fish and he is content for a day, teach him how to fish and he is set for life. The improvement of the diet of the kids will improve their learning abilities and improve their lives.
Time flies, and after the jackets and the food, sadly for us it was time to go. We were depending on our three kind drivers to get us back to safety and they did not want to drive in the dark on that road, what was completely understandable.
The kids were sad to see us leave and we got high fives, smiles and waves. Some of the kids, I tell you, I wanted just to take in my pocket and show them a better life. Heart warming but also kind of emotional.
About 20 of them lived in the school due to loss of parents etc, what basically made it an orphanage too. Heart breaking to think that some kids have to live from 20 cents a day, and then thinking it can be much worse in this world too.
At least these kids have the volunteers, the villagers and you!
What has happened and what will happen?
We improved their lives already. With love, with attention and with the stuff we brought along. They will be warmer due to the clothing, sleep warmer due to the blankets and have a warmer belly due to the variety of food. They will be happier due to all the toys; they will be healthier due to the exercise. They will be smarter due to the books and wiser due to the learning equipment.
And now, they will soon get fresh healthy food due to our veggie garden and chicken farm. We have told the volunteers that if they have spare eggs or spare veggies, please try to sell them to the villagers so you can get more seeds and food for the chicks.
We all have touched the lives of over a 100 kids, even up to a 120. This due to the weird situation that some of these kids are stateless, because they belong to the hill tribe that fled Burma. Kids that have no meaning to the rest of the world. Kids that had never seen a white person (sad for the kids it had to be me lol). Kids that would have been shivering due to the winter, and shaking due the hunger.
We, by coming together, have changed this! Something we all can be proud of!
As they say in Thailand, good luck, Chok dee Chok dee Chok dee!!
The warm and heartfelt greetings from Nion and Martin
ps. This year we did not have our friend the photographer with us, as it was too pricey to fly him over and make the hole trip so the pics are done with my little cam! 😉
Some of the kids of Molutu School!
On our shopping spree! Just got the batteries in…
The owner of the battery shop that donated spontaniously, Nion and one of the volunteers.
One of the four pieces of outdoor toys we bought.. The bikes and the horses in the background too!
Trying out the equipment before buying! Nion and Tip…
A small portion of the goods bought on Thursday.
A bit more…
And more… The Blankets!
Packing the goods.
The lorry arrived with the outdoor toys, and we had to load more into it, as three pick ups was not enough!
You wrekon we have enough?
…On route to the mountains…
No road blocks, but some road boulders. Look at the size of the thing! The pick up has just passed it…
Beautiful country side, but no time to get out and take good shots.. we are on a mission.
Hill tribe woman in traditional clothing.. we did manage to get a smile of her.
The compass said we are heading in the right direction!
Some parts the road was being re-constructed.. well needed I’d say.
Even the cows had never seen white people…
The village near the School.
The welcoming commitee.
Unpacking all the goods…
An unhealthy but delicious snack, never been eaten by the kids.. banana cake and brownies!
The kids loved it!
The big kids too!
Lined up eating and waiting for the next gift.. the jackets!
Storage room slash library.
The little angels helped separating the jackets in to boys and girls..
Nion passing out the jackets one by one…
The size of some the kids.. the little rascal at the door opening was one of those that stole my heart.
They all got two pieces… keep them extra warm…
Do I look cool or what?
The mothers of the village came to see what all the commotion was about, and enjoyed it to see their kids happy.
Look at the size of that white giant!!
Waving goodbye!! See you soon kids, keep warm and keep smiling!
We like to thank you all that helped, you make the Kharma Foundation to a success every year!
Some pics of kids follow plus the pics of the Students of the Chulalongkorn University
Had to throw this one in, as he was a good contributor and just such a funny pic.. Frenky and Perry!