16 November 2005:
Children's Garden, Doi Saket, Thailand
220,000 baht, fireworks,
badminton and love!
Children's Garden a few months ago, I asked what happened to the
non-existent bamboo boys' dorm. Founder
Stanley said, "The wind blew it away. They're staying in the chicken
coop we can't use yet because of Asian bird flu." When I asked where all
the plants in the fish trough were, he said, "The earthquake cracked the
cement." When I asked where the rest of the kids were, he said, "Four
have malaria." Day to day life at the orphanage.
Still, many changes are apparent.
Through the help of the Lahu Helping Hand
organization, they now have a steel and concrete building with screen
doors. Wind and mosquitoes are at bay. New mattresses from FERC are in
place to give them comfort and warmth during the winter. The number of
children has risen to 30 with five Akha brothers and sisters united once
again after their father was imprisoned for life for cutting protected
trees in the jungle and their mother committed suicide while attempting
to poison the kids. Luckily the oldest daughter understood what was
happening. While in America, several folks said to me: "These kids look
pretty happy. They don't look very needy." My answer: "I try to ease the
suffering and record the joy. I think we've seen enough photos of
emaciated kids with flies in their eyes. If you need those stories, I've
Before I left on the
FERC Give and Live
Benefits USA Concert Tour in August, Stanley learned he had diabetes and
was looking a bit thin. When I returned in October, he was weak, in pain
and waiting for an operation to remove kidney stones. Without Stanley,
there is no Children's Garden. Besides the 200,000 baht earmarked for
the Garden from the tour, we are also paying for Stanley's operation.
He's looking and feeling better and was in good spirits the night we
brought the Loi Krathong holiday to the kids for the second year in a
Checks and money are necessary but not
without time, love and caring. We've gotten to know the kids; we play
games; we eat together; we share the joy of their festivals. We'll never
replace their parents but it's great to try for a few moments. The
fireworks were greeted with continuous screams, applause and laughter.
Some of the kids had never seen them. Spontaneous songs burst forth
during the lighting of the khoom fai (the traditional fire lanterns) and
the launching of the floating loi krathong (upper right hand corner:
flowers, incense, candles on banana leaves and stalk to send away the
bad luck) into the fish pond (lower left hand corner).
At FERC and Give and Live we're trying
to continue and deepen our relationships with the kids, the schools, the
communities. We covered many of the kids expenses at Children's Garden
last year and are doing it again this year. The Give-Live-Ride Thailand Charity Motorcycle Ride in
January 2007 sponsored solely by Give and Live with a stop at the Garden. Give and live and stay instead of
giving, living and going away.
After seeing the purses and clothes
made by the kids, offered for sale during the tour, several folks in
America asked, "Isn't that child labor?" I almost fell over the first
time. "Well, they don't have soccer moms and Gameboys and television and
hockey practice, but you should see how much fun they have with rocks
and dirt. Think of them as farm kids helping with the family. Being a
part of keeping their heritage alive through their handicrafts and
providing a productive outlet for their art is my main payback for
everything I do in Thailand." The main joy is seeing the smiles, feeling
the love and thumb-wrestling.
(FYI: 200,000 baht equals about $5,000
which is sufficient to cover the food, lodging, school and medical
supplies for the 30 kids at Children's Garden for about a year. If you'd
like to help, here's how you can.)
TO DAY updates:
Srinehru Hmong School Gets New Facilities!
15 October 2005, Khun Chang Khian, Thailand
FERC Give and Live Benefits USA Concert Tour
Raises One Million Baht for Thailand's Children
26 August - 6 October, 2005: All across America
FERC's 6th Annual Benefit Gala!
19 February 2005, Chiangmai, Thailand
There's more to give than money.
28 November 2004: Children's Garden, Doi Saket,
FERC's First Give and Live Benefit
September - October 2004: Chiangmai,
Two years ago I wasn't sure I'd live two more minutes.
27 July 2004: Sansai, Thailand
Day to Day has become month to month.
21 March 2004: Chiangmai, Thailand
& R and R & R for the R:
rest, relaxation, roots and rubber for the
20 December 2003: Chiangmai and Pai,
Later DAY TO
Give-Live-Ride Thailand Charity
Motorcycle Ride 2007!
January 2007, All Over Northern Thailand
No soccer moms or Gameboys,
just one beautiful loi krathong
and lots of joyous kids
singing from the heart.
English Tom listens
unsavory real life stories from Stanley over dinner while the
kids write their names on
their fire lanterns.
Tall foreigners are good
have around for reasons other
than their wallets.
We may not have needed
with these kids' excited, hot
breath to launch the lantern.
is not fair but seriously fun.