Now, down to business...an update on all of our projects seems pertinent.
After fundraising about 3,000 baht for AIDS Access, things have calmed down, but we're working toward another fundraiser this weekend. If we secure a booth at the Walking Street market in Chiang Mai, some volunteers may be traveling there to sell artwork, bracelets, journals, and other handicrafts. Hopefully, jumping rope will be on the agenda again.
Ryleigh and her crew are still plugging along up in Mae Sai teaching English, square foot gardening, and DJ-ing for the Child Voice Radio each Wednesday morning. DEPDC provides these at-risk kids a safe place to be where they can learn productively, rather than becoming victims of human trafficking. A lot of good work is being done there.
Chiang Rai Government Hospital
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, Nate and a few other volunteers walk 20 minutes to the local hospital to offer their services. We began going to the hospital about six weeks ago and at first, it seemed that all we were good for was packing medical supplies (six cotton balls and one gauze pad stuffed into a Ziploc bag for dialysis patients) because that's all we did for the first few weeks, hours at a time. Well, we were doing a lot of good work, but at times it would get monotonous. However, as it turned out, our hard work paid off and it seems we gained the hospital matrons' trust.
Now, volunteers work in the pediatrics section, spending time with children who have terminal diseases, observe in the chemotherapy and dialysis section, and we are now helping the hospital decorate a new section of the building as another waiting area. The current waiting room is extremely overcrowded, so we are hoping to make the new area very inviting with educational games and activities for all ages.
Rongrian Nam Lad
Our wash station is complete! Last week, the builders finished cementing, tiling, and installing the sinks, while we finished painting the wood and clearing the area. Now, the children attending this school have a clean, new, healthy area to brush their teeth and wash their hands. Brandalyn got this project started, and although she had to leave before it was finished, we wouldn't have been able to get it done if she hadn't done all the leg work with Pim in the beginning. So Brandalyn, thanks! Everyone at Nam Lad is very excited to have the wash station.
Our work at this school is not finished, though. Emily and Nate, two of our future doctors on the team, are teaching tooth brushing and hand washing classes to each grade, and in the coming weeks, they will begin teaching classes focused on the cultures of many countries around the world.
After our big tournament a few weeks ago, things at the soccer school have continued on as usual. Shawn, Jordan, and a couple more volunteers still go there each Tuesday and Thursday to teach English, dance, and soccer.
Shawn and Jordan, our resident married couple, are both working to finish their undergraduate degrees from BYU. They designed their dance and soccer programs as part of their final internship requirement and are happy with how things have turned out. We'll be sad to see them go this week, but they have definitely made a difference in the soccer school students' lives.
Blue EconomicsIn the past month, Garrett, Nate, Pim, and Matt have taught five economics classes to about 475 rural cattle farmers in the Mae Lao area of Thailand. They taught the importance of basic bookkeeping, target marketing, supply and demand, critical business analysis, and keeping sales records. For the most part, these farmers weren't doing any of those things because they didn't understand how it would benefit their businesses, so these were important ideas for them to learn. The governor of the Mae Lao area came to one of the classes to acknowledge this program for the Thai government, which is running these classes. When the classes were finished, the government split the farmers up into groups according to their community area and the group that best implements all the training given receives 50,000 baht from the government.
In a few weeks, Garrett, Nate, Pim, and Matt will be going back through the training with individuals who ask for it to help analyze their businesses and help them see where they can improve and increase their profits.
Dr. Blue, a local veterinarian, informed Pim about this opportunity and he now has a copy of the powerpoint used in the classes, so when we leave Thailand, he and others can keep teaching farmers the importance of these principles.
Garrett is also preparing a template for the government to continue monitoring the farmers' progress, along with a handbook for the farmers so they can do record keeping and bookkeeping on their own.
Garrett says that the goal is to help them create wealth within their businesses and pull them out of poverty.
For the past two months, the Saman Mit community has been planting rice, which is their cash crop, their livelihood, and the food they eat. This has left little time for starting construction on the watchtower because planting rice is really tough and time consuming work.
In the meantime, we've visited Saman Mit multiple times for financial classes, follow up visits, and watchtower meetings. Each time we go, the hospitality of these farmers and their families blows us away. They have shared meals with us more than once and have shown us friendship and warmth rarely found so ready and genuine these days, especially after so short a time knowing each other.
And now, the community has finished planting rice for a couple of weeks and they cleared the land for the watchtower. We hope to go up this week to begin gathering sand, wood, and other materials so we can finally start building! Cross your fingers that it doesn't rain tomorrow...rain has a funny way of ruining plans.
Last week, some volunteers traveled back up to the Akha village to finish the adobe stove built earlier in the week. It was a success and now the villagers just need to wait for everything to dry before they can begin cooking on it. We hope to go back up to the village this Friday to build another adobe stove down by the medical clinic that Dr. Tum is building. Hopefully, if the villagers see him using it, someone they know and respect, they will realize its benefits and usefulness and want one of their own.
We hope to go back up to the village this Friday to build another adobe stove down by the medical clinic that Dr. Tum is building. Hopefully, if the villagers see him using it, someone they know and respect, they will realize its benefits and usefulness and want one of their own. We are hesitant to push the stoves on the villagers because they have been cooking over open fires in their homes for hundreds of years, a tradition not easily broken. The members of the community need to truly desire a stove of their own volition so that once they have one in their home, they can feel that it really is their own, not something the white people mindlessly forced on them, and use it as it should be used.
This is our life.