Dear friends and family, donors and supporters,
A little tired after a long travel I can report to you that the Kharma Foundation’s Christmas 2013 action has been concluded and has been a great success! A great success! With an amazing result in donations and a great team of volunteers we managed to achieve all the goals we set, plus a few more.
I will first give all the details and numbers and after that I will elaborate on the stories and experiences. With the great sponsoring of a handful of companies and a charity event plus the usual sponsoring of the family and friends we have accumulated a historically high amount of 758,600 baht. We have 19,600 baht left which will be used in a future project. The major spending was to build the Kindergarten building of 8 by 10 meters, which was finalized when we were on site.
We have spent the donations on:
In addition to the planned goals we have had more money coming in than expected and we spend that on:
Wheelchair for handicapped boy James
A diesel power generator for Baan Huay Grataai
Sponsoring of children’s day for Baan Mae Gon
14 extra bunk beds (something went wrong with the order and we got double). 5 Have gone to a neighboring School. 9 will be used in a future project.
Other items that where purchased or sponsored were:
1. Bunk beds = 14 / Mattress = 19 / blanket =19 (Sponsored by Sindicatum)
2. Underwear = 240 / towels = 80 / sanitary napkin (sponsored by Pronto Marketing)
3. Clothing 100 kg (sponsored by Sindicatum)
4. Sport shoes =100 / socks = 240 (Sponsored by Sindicatum)
5. Eyes checking and glasses (Sponsor by Pronto Marketing company)
6. Dried food / canned food / 600 kilo of rice
7. Sporting equipment / study material
8. First aid kits (Sponsored by Sindicatum)
9. Plastic shelves for boarding kids (Sponsored by Sindicatum)
10. Hosting the event ‘children’s day and sports day’
11. Kitchen equipment (knife, chopping board, pans, pots, spoons) (sponsored by Pronto Marketing)
12. Aluminum plates = 90 (sponsored by Pronto Marketing)
13. Big garbage bin = 8 (sponsored by Pronto Marketing)
14. Shampoo, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, detergent more than 80 set each kind (sponsored by Val, Alex and Yossy)
15. Gardening equipment
I never expected 7 years ago when Nion and I together with my friend Sammie and some others actually started collecting for the first time as the idea of helping finally went to reality that 7 years later we have built 2 buildings and have helped over 2000 kids. The first few years we had very big orphanages and the later years we focus on smaller groups but do more. 7 years we have tripled the donations per year, we have tripled the volunteers and tripled the great feelings we receive from doing this thankful job.
This year a big homage is in place for Nion, as she was the leader, the wizard, the time keeper, the dictator, the mother and the team player. ‘What was your job Martin?’ I hear you think… Well, I try to focus on finding the funding of the project and try to be a clown for the volunteers. But since my nasty slip earlier this year where I broke the coxis and damaged my spine, I am not much helpful as a worker. I tried to help here and there but without Nion and the volunteers this year’s goal to finalize the building and the other goals would not have been possible.
We want to give a big thank you to Sindicatum for lending us Michelle and her four perfect workers, and a thank you to Pronto and its owner Derek for joining us and bringing along your staff. Of course we thank Berlitz to give Nion and some other staff the free time to travel with the onsite crew. We want to give a special thank you to Gilly and her group of Bangkok citizens for a great charity event and an unexpected donation.
7 years, I am proud a peacock that the dream becomes reality more and more. I hope in the next few years we can expand and grow with all your support.
Time for some stories!
This year was about improving the lives of the kids of Baan Huay Grataai. On first glace they might have had more than others we have visited and helped in the years before, but a few stone buildings or a solar power system is a farce when the food is still shockingly boring and unhealthy and the smallest children lay under a hot tin roof. The government does support schools like these, but in our eyes with the wrong equipment. Why a solar power system so you can have satellite wifi, if no one understands computers, has computers or understands the internet and the nutrition and food for the children is not sufficient? Why a basketball court if no Thai ever played that game? The answer will forever be: This is Thailand!
Our focus will always remain on a few important fronts: nutritional food so the kids health improve, school material for better lessons, sports equipment for activities and since a few years we try to provide better buildings and a playground for the kids entertainment. This year was no different.
The scene was idyllic. The mountains around the village were 360 degrees. We passed a river which turned out to be the border between Thailand and Myanmar (Burma). Never been so close, it had a strange feeling. The school buildings and dormitory and other shags were set against a mountain with on top a 12 year old unused basketball pitch. This was our camp site.
We had 5 overly filled pick-ups and a full Toyota Fortuner and needed a 10 wheeler army truck as we had that much stuff to bring up the mountain. The army had said we could hire the truck plus muscle for about 400 dollars but when they found out it was truly for the children and only for the children, upon arrival they changed their minds and we got that part of the transport for free! It’s great when you try to do good, it’s rewarded with these kind of actions.
The villagers are almost all chewing Maak, a beetle nut mix that gets you kind of high, a centuries old tradition. They are from a hill tribe, so the dresses are colorful and the smiles are never far away although usually with black teeth. Of course the arrival of a big bunch of cars and white people was a happening and many came to stare. But all in a good way; all respected the reason why we came.
The first afternoon most of our muscle focused on the building of the Kindergarten and the females owned the kitchen and cooked food for the children, the teachers, the locals that helped and the volunteers. For three days the ladies were superstars and the food was great. The kids ate what we ate and so they had a great time around the table. Although a lot of them were not used to good food and did not trust it at first. It must be weird if suddenly you have the choice of three main dishes next to the rice. The second day we had more kids of another school visiting and most villagers that came to help building the fishpond and the kitchen crew managed to cook for 200 hungry mouths. Amazing! Nothing but gratitude for the kitchen team.
When we woke up on the first morning we hoped to see the beautiful views of the mountains around us, but a thick fog was all around us. When the fog later cleared, the mountains peeked trough and it was a beautiful scene. You wonder if the kids and the locals still enjoy these surroundings. We as outsiders certainly did.
One of the local dogs had killed one of our chickens, some of us wished it would have been the rooster as the little b#stard woke us up every 30 minutes from about 4 in the morning.
It’s surrealistic to be on top of a mountain, where your phone does not work, no calls, and no sms; but in some places we could receive wifi. This was due to the satellite connection set up by the government. You needed to drive for an hour with a car or motorbike to make a phone call. And that only a mile of the mysterious Myanmar. On one side you have wifi; on the other side you have one of the most secretive countries in the world. But also in the village itself it was strange. Every man walks around with a machete, most villagers are stoned and live in a setting that could easily go back 200 years, and there you are trying to whatsapp your girlfriend and read your friends Facebook updates. Completely bizarre. All of us agreed we rather had no wifi, how strange that might sound.
The volunteers came from all over the globe; we had of course Thai, but also citizens from Romania, Norway, Holland, American, Germany, Ireland, Taiwan, Pilipino and England. Ryan the engineer was a leading factor in the buildings, Michelle was the queen of the kitchen. Heide had changed from the kitchen last year to the building team this year and was enjoying herself a lot. Everyone worked together very well.
The playground is the perfect gift for the kids. From constructing it on the first afternoon it did not know a silent moment. And I can guess it will never see a quiet moment again for a long time. The kids loved it. They learn to share, to help each other, to enjoy with each other. They learn to play together. This will be a gift we hope to give to many children in the future!
On Saturday, the last full day we were there, it was Thai Children’s Day, and it was sports day for the school and we were invited to join. The building of the kindergarten continued but most of us took time to play with the kids. It was fantastic. We saw funny games between the children and sometimes with a mix of volunteers and kids. In the evening we had a great dinner and Scott and I gave the children a spectacular fireworks show; sponsored by the both of us. The kids were typically shocked, scared but loved it. I guess the adults did too.
The building was finished by the end of Saturday. It brought a tear to my eye to see our second big project finished. Also because on Children’s Day we saw many very small kids that the villagers brought with them and you knew that they would be in that building in the coming years. It’s great to know there will be many kids helped by our donation to the school. Who knows, maybe the doctor that saves your life in 30 years got his start in our kindergarten or our dormitory. I know it sounds too romantic to be real, but the world has seen crazier things. I hope many children will find shelter and will find a better nutrition and a better education in the future. Made possible by all of you!
Sunday was the day of leaving, but also the day we gave all the gifts & donations to the children; the school material, the sports equipment, the blankets for the children that sleep at the school, the underwear and much more. We also had an eye test for all the children sponsored by Pronto marketing. The head teacher had some gifts for us; a scarf and bag for the volunteers. With extremely honest feelings, and you could see he was touched by all the happenings of the last few days, we said our farewells. I had a lump in my throat and when we drove off, the whole car was quiet and all hoped that we made a difference.
Lets end one more time with these wise words: : “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt
Thank you for your time and your support. I am truly blessed to have friends and family like you that come together for the greater good. May Buddha, God or Allah bless you all!
founder of the Kharma Foundation
co-founder of the Kharma Foundation