Giving Children A Better Chance in Northern Thailand
"telling someone what they have to learn is a long and tortuous road, often ineffective; giving someone the opportunity to explore what their brain finds particularly interesting at the time opens the gateway to optimization of that individuals potential" ...John Cope , Director The Stratton ABC Foundation
We have a busy day today with Tai doing a school science project and May 2 expecting school friends to come and do similar. Then its English in the afternoon and hopefully fitting some Art in as well. With sorting our land being a priority it meant an early start this morning with breakfast at 7 and up to the land at 7.30.
Everyone pitched in well and got lots done before we returned home at 9.30 as the heat of the day set in. With the promise of a trip to Obkhan National Park tomorrow the children have agreed to breakfast at 6.30 tomorrow morning in an effort to get the most of whats left cleared.
Back home everyone enjoyed cooling iced tea and Thai kanom given to them by our kind neighbours up by the land.
Yesterday was tinged with sadness as we said a fond Farewell to my Mum, “Grandma” to the kids. After nearly 3 months of playing football with Zak; helping the girls with homework, making dolls, knitting jumpers, scarfs and doing needlework repair to lots of clothes; coaching Gu with his English and much much more, it was regrettably time for her to fly back to wintery UK.
Most of us went to the Airport; Yong, suffering Chicken Pox had to wave from the kitchen and May 2 and Jor opted to stay with her and House Mother, Zangboon.
Once check in was completed it was that final awkward time where everyone was fighting back the tears.
Mum, I cringe at the trials and tribulations I may have put you through during my troubled path through life.
But please know that I love you very much and thank you for being my Mum. I can only hope that I may have eventually given you reason for a touch of pride.
The kids all miss you and although I know you have much more to keep you at home it doesn’t stop the continued wish that you could be here fulltime.
Hope your trip home goes well and see you soon on Skype.
And in tribute here is a gallery of my Mums photos followed by another of Mum herself here in Thailand.
So, second Saturday in January. Every year on this day the people of Thailand make a huge effort to celebrate Children’s Day.
If you want to experience a truly community based event then you couldn’t do much better than to be a part of one of the many local celebrations.
This year the main responsibility for organising events was down to the local Tessabahns(council), but the reality is that the whole community joins in supplying food for all and of course snack food , games and prizes for the children.
Our day started with travelling the short distance to Wat Ta Dtongwao School, near Chompoo.
There were many activities going on around the borders of the playground, with a large stage at the far end for the dance performances and prize giveaways.
As well as the obligatory Bouncy Castle, there were many games laid on for the kids to try as well as art and craft activities.
In the classrooms there were even study activities and I was pulled in to assist judging an English Story telling contest.
This was very difficult as the noise of the outdoor activities made it virtually impossible to hear what the contestants were saying, let alone decide who was best.
What I could say was that they all tried very hard and appeared to do very well.
There were lots of food stalls to and the best thing was that everything was free. This section of the day went on to around Midday.
As part of our continuing English language program we have been having regular spelling tests on the weekends.
In keeping with most things here, informality is the key and on the most part I am very happy with the progress that the children are making.
This is not to say that they are all perfect students and there is a degree of “carrot and stick” involved.
The “carrot” being lots of praise and the “stick” being no TV if they fall below 50%.
In fact, being that the most recent list of words they are working on had been taking some time to sink in, that threshold was raised to 75%.
Once everyone is reaching that mark we will then move on to new words and the threshold will go down again.
I am not keen on too much TV watching; here it only comes on in the evening after study; but it is a very powerful motivational tool for the children. Its amazing how much harder they try after they have had the “TV watching” privilege taken away.
Yesterday was Anna and Toms 4th day with us and it turned out to be a very interesting one. After a phone call the day before, from Khruu Khem of Huay Sai School, 14 kms from our Foundation home, it was arranged that we would visit the school to help the children with English vocabulary.
It turned out that the school is getting various visits this week with a view to inspecting its standards. Yesterday they were visited by the Governor of Lamphun Province, within which Huay Sai is situated.
Our day began as usual with the school run, taking the four Mattayom Students to their school in Sarapee, picking up Anna and Tom on the way. From there we went to the vegetable market in Sarapee and got the weeks supplies.
Having dropped the veg back home we then headed off to Huay Sai , arriving a little after 9am.
Shortly after our arrival we were treated to some cultural performances laid on for the Governor, including Traditional Thai Dancing, Hula Hoop Dancing and a display of Muay Thai/stick fighting by the boys.
Then it was into Khruu Khems English classroom, which had been laid out to imitate a small market, ready for the children to go “shopping” using English language.
Anna, Tom and myself spent time helping the children practice their vocabulary, both with the shopping exercise and with a performance of ” Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”.
We all had lots of fun and when it came to the children doing the exercise in front of the visiting inspectors they all did a great job.
Another full day with so much done. Thanks to help from Anna and Tom it wasn’t just productive and fun but also quite relaxing for me.
The day started off Anna and Tom arriving shortly after breakfast.
They came bearing gifts of some great card model kits, including Tower Bridge and Big Ben.
After a short period helping the kids get started on the models it was time for work hour. We are at the moment having a serious overhaul of our store room, previously treated more like a dumping ground.
We had already emptied the room, swept and cleaned and now the kids are getting to test their practical skills yet again, building new shelves from bamboo.
With Tai showing the most interest in practical exercises and the plan being to create an ordered workshop, he has once again taken charge and got to work designing the shelf units and passing on instruction for measuring out the bamboo needed.
Todays session finished, Anna and Tom then joined some May 2 , Jor and Nu in the kitchen to help prepare a very tasty sweet potato curry for lunch.
After lunch there was more model making before our 2 helpful Volunteers ran an hours English based around an introduction to their 2 home countries, Australia and England.
That finsished it was back to the kitchen to help prepare Salmon fish cakes and more curry for dinner.
With everything ready there was also time for a fun game of Patong .