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Old bunkhouse, big bugs.
Big wind, no bunkhouse.

New colorful mattresses
mean comfort and warmth
at Children's Garden.

New dorm, new mattresses.
No wind, no mosquitoes.

Just talk with me, hold me,
and give me a little love.

Barb and Chris Hutchison sample rice and veggies grown at Children's Garden.

Soon they'll receive 220,000 baht, but hey, it's just a check. They're enjoying their
new badminton set even
before the poles are up!


16 November 2005: Children's Garden, Doi Saket, Thailand

220,000 baht, fireworks, badminton and love!
While visiting 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 got 'em."

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 row.

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.)

Previous DAY TO DAY updates:
Srinehru Hmong School Gets New Facilities!

15 October 2005, Khun Chang Khian, Thailand
FERC Give and Live Benefits USA Concert Tour 2006
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, Thailand
FERC's First Give and Live Benefit
September - October 2004: Chiangmai, Thailand
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 & R and R & R for the R:
rest, relaxation, roots and rubber for the road...
20 December 2003: Chiangmai and Pai, Thailand

Later DAY TO DAY updates:
Give-Live-Ride Thailand Charity Motorcycle Ride 2007!
January 2007, All Over Northern Thailand

Questions? Comments? Donations?
2005 by Give and Live, USA
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No No soccer moms or Gameboys,
just one beautiful loi krathong
and lots of joyous kids
singing from the heart.

English Tom listens to
unsavory real life stories from Stanley over dinner while the
kids write their names on
their fire lanterns.

Tall foreigners are good to
have around for reasons other
than their wallets.

We may not have needed fire
with these kids' excited, hot
breath to launch the lantern.

Three-to-one thumb wrestling
is not fair but seriously fun.