Dear donors and friends of the Kharma Foundation,
The hard work of the volunteers of the Kharma Foundation (KF) has been finished, so now it is time to let you all know what we have been doing with your generous donations. It was a long and fun quest filled with beautiful impressions and new experiences.
I know from earlier remarks I always write too much and too long so at first I will try to be to the point and after that I will elaborate more for the people who are interested in the impressions. The targets we managed to reach at the school of Baan Mae Gon:
- The dormitory of 10 by 10 meters of Teak wood has been build. It’s complete with roof, raised of the ground to keep animals from entering, mosquito screens have been placed, hatches for the windows to keep the wind and rain out.
- The kitchen and mess hall has been extended there for the kids have more space to eat.
- The kitchen has its own sink.
- The washing place has two sinks for cleaning dishes.
- The old dormitory has been fitted with new mosquito screens for the windows and doors.
- A playground has been purchased and placed.
- The 24 new students got new mattresses, blankets, clothing and flip flops/shoes.
- All the purchased goods; food, stationary, sports equipment, toys and clothing have been dished out to the kids and to the school.
- The KF has donated 750 kilo of rice as well as canned food, protein and noodles.
- The head teacher has been schooled in the benefits of Moringa for his students and has been supplied with the seeds for planting.
Scott, a volunteer of the first order and I have put up a fireworks show for the children that was spectacular to say the least. Nion and I thought it was fun to treat the kids to something they have never seen before and it turned out that the elders and parents of the village had never seen it either. It became a big success.
The targets we managed to reach for the second school of Baan Huai Krataai:
- The preconditions have been set to donate a new toilet facility by a friendly company.
- The stationary stuff, books, pens and more have been brought and donated.
- Canned food, protein, noodles, candy and 450 kilo of rice have been given to the head teacher and staff.
- Small toys and candy have been shared among the happy kids.
- Blankets have been given to the children that sleep at the school.
- All kids have been supplied with new towels, flip flops and toothbrushes.
The amount of money that was reached for the KF Christmas action of 2012 was 367.130 baht of which 125.000 baht was left over from 2011. The idea in 2011 was to help flooded schools with the remaining funds, but due to a lot of bureaucracy and unclear wishes of the schools we contacted we decided to not waste the money and keep it for the 2012 Christmas action.
It turned out to be a wise choice as it was harder to find funds this year, I guess due to the lingering financial crisis the world is still facing. Luckily all targets we had in mind have been reached.
This partly thanks to the company Sindicatum that did not donate money to us, but we supplied them with a list of goods we needed like mattresses, blankets, flip flops, underwear and much more and they purchased those and donated that to us. It’s a small detour, but the same positive result.
As it stands now there is about 5000 baht left. We are still waiting for one bill for shipping back the professional equipment and tools that was borrowed from the company of our technical man Ryan. Without these power tools the building would never have been finished with this speed, especially the nail guns were a gift from heaven. Whatever amount is left, may it be 5000 or more, it will either be donated to a charity like we did in other years or we keep it for the 2013 episode.
With that the Christmas action of 2012 has been a very successful undertaking! We thank you sincerely that you have made this possible. I hope this give you all a good feeling as well. I have a very positive feeling about this year’s action and I think and hope the next years will get bigger and better. More companies want to work with us and I also hope you will create a healthy advertisement to friends and family about what we do and what we stand for, share the photos and convince people to support us.
In the name of all volunteers, the school staff and I particular the kids: THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
== The Kharma Foundation; where good people make a difference ==
Now I will try to give you a travelogue as how I experienced it. I will take the space to elaborate and for the people who like to read it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the trip. The photos have titles so you can see the people, the kids, the work and the impressions.
Sitting on the couch at home after returning from such a long journey I can only smile. What a trip. We have travelled over 2300 kilometers… From Bangkok to Chiang Mai, to Baan Mae Gon. From there to Mae Sariang and on to Baan Huai Krataai. Back to Chiang Mai and then a visa run to Mae Sai.
What a beautiful country.. What a sights and what a beautiful people. Its an absolute recommendation to go this region and take a 4×4 and go off the highway into the unknown. Its like time stood still. The mountains, the valleys, the rivers and streams… The paddies. The inhospitable parts, the cliffs, the jungle and the forests.. In these surroundings ‘our’ two schools are placed. Far away from the civilized world. Out of reach of mobile phone signals, no internet, no power supply. The people are poor, but a smile is never far away. The people live and survive.
This year we wanted more. Not only to donate goods but to actually do something that will stand, that will last. With the building of a dormitory we have put our first step in that direction. This building made of Teak wood will be there for at least 15 to 20 years. It gives even more satisfaction to donate something that is not finished or that wears and tears quickly. But it is quite an undertaking. Just take the main wooden beams that are supporting the whole structure. Those had to be brought to the village by an elephant. It’s a shame we were not present when this happened to take some photos. The slope was too steep and there was too little space for the animal to drag them to the location of the build so the villagers carried them the rest of the way.
Upon arrival we saw the villagers had worked hard for the past few weeks and the floor and ceiling was as good as done. Ryan, our technical wizard took the lead and told the volunteers what to do and there for we managed to finish the build in the next three days. We had an American of almost 60 named Derek, a young Norwegian called Jostein, the Polish boyfriend of Nion Michal, and two Thai gentlemen Thanaset and Winai, all of whom worked from morning till sundown. Scott, my cousin Claes and I also helped with the dormitory but as only so many people can work on one build; we did other chores like making the sinks, attached the mosquito nettings and screens and did other tasks.
The thing that was an instant hit with the kids was the play ground. From the moment it was placed on its location it was never without kids. From dusk till dawn they played and played and played. Its good for the kids as it gives them exercise; they learn to share, to enjoy together, to help each other. Never thought I t would be such a success. The dormitory is good for the kids but they do not see the value of it or not see any fun in it. The play ground so much more. A definite addition to future years.
The kitchen got run by the lovely ladies we brought with us, an Irish lady called Michelle; who works at Sindicatum, Heide a German colleague of Jostein and three Thai ladies Nikki, Mind and Nueng. They not only took care of our hungry stomachs but also cooked for the all the kids and teachers for 4 days. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. We did not have it luxurious or better as the kids, everything they ate, we ate and the other way around. The kids were visibly happy with the food the ladies prepared for them. Fish from the barbeque, beef stew, fried omelets and much more. Homage to the ladies!
The evenings we spend around a campfire with a nice drink and some snacks. A few good tunes and pleasurable conversation. Its fun to see that such a mixed group of people got along that good. No arguments and no visible irritations.
The second evening Scott and I, as the big children that we still are, treated the kids on a semi professional fireworks show, sponsored by us both. The idea was born from Nion and I. Of course our main focus is the future and wellbeing of the children, that’s the main target… But the kids can have fun as well and almost every child is fascinated by the colors and sounds of fireworks. Almost needless to say that it was a great success. The kids were mesmerized. Some of the small ones were a bit scared but the next day it was the talk of the town. The 15 year old kid that helped us lighting all the stuff will probably never forget this for the rest of his life. And that is beautiful in itself. We have given the kids some positive and fun experiences and memories.
The third day was sportsday for the kids and the volunteers joined in as well. Claes and I set off on a long journey while the others stayed behind to finish the job in Baan Mae Gon. We first travelled to Mae Sariang and from there we picked up more goods and one more pick up truck and we began our trip to the second school in Baan Huai Krataai about 70 kilometers away. 50 of those 70 kilometers were over a sandy trail over mountain tops and ledges. It was as if we were driving on the roof of Thailand. Breathtakingly beautiful… Every so many kilometers a little village or township with surprised looking people, animals running around freely, authentic clothing, wooden shags and huts and then more and more jungle and forests. As far as you could see, green and more green, mountains after mountains. The road we were on was the only road in the area. Miles upon miles of wilderness.
And suddenly we were there… A small speck on the map, Baan Huai Krataai, with a small cute school. The kids were ready for us, waiting, staring, wondering. All students were very shy as the sight of white people (especially the size and shape of us) was extremely rare. It is a shame that with these quick visits you do not get the time to melt the ice a little. So it is mostly shy laughs and some of the kids were frightened to death of me. I can not blame them…
I never really like to take too many pictures as it gives me the feeling of being in a zoo. Luckily Claes made a few pictures and videos and so we have a lasting memory of the place. The kids were delighted with all the goods, but of course the teachers even more. In the little book they had for donors to leave a message I counted 12 pages with 12 messages that were written over the last 4 years. Goes to show not many people wonder this far out. The Kharma Foundation is one of the exceptions!
We had to leave before the sun went down as the road back was hard enough in the day time but impossible with no light. Some of the slopes had over 30 degrees to 40 degrees of angle and we were not driving the best rental car. It was a real adventure and that was very much visible on Claes his face who was in this kind of setting for the first time in his life.
The next day we all met up in Chiang Mai where we had a little closing party in the beautiful garden of Scotts dad Paul. His wife cooked us an excellent meal and Paul arranged some cold refreshing drinks. A perfect ending to a perfect trip.
What a journey, what a success. With a relatively small amount of money we managed to do a lot in this corner of the world. It is still possible. Over a 100 kids in one school and over 60 in the other have been supported by all of us. It always gives me the taste of more.
Wanting to do something good and doing it by the grace of your support is something beautiful and very rewarding. To see the happy faces, the proud and happy teacher who fights for his kids on a daily basis to make their life better… its all worth it. All action, all stress, all the begging, all the planning, all the pre-work, all the effort, is all more than worth it!
I hope you liked my story, I hope by sharing this and the photos and videos I was able to take you on this journey. With all the donations, big and small, we made this possible. We all live a good life, the one a bit better than the other. But to come together and to take some effort to help the people who have a hard life, by being there to help these little fellow human beings, well, that gives us all a good feeling right? One more time from the bottom of my heart, thank you all…
With a tear of joy in my eye and a huge smile I salute you,
Martin and of course Nion and all the volunteers