This week I travelled to the North of Thailand to the opening of the January 2013 Footsteps for Good project: A boarding house in the village of Baan Rom Po-Thai. I was travelling with the team from Child’s Dream, who have been building boarding houses in Thailand and Laos for the past 10 years.
The drive from Chiang Mai was around 4 hours, though we took an over night detour to another project which, to my excitement, meant staying an evening in a guest house overlooking the Mekong River. I have travelled to Thailand extensively during the past 10 years but never been north enough to see the Mekong, which meanders along the boarders between Thailand, Laos and Myanmar (The Golden Triangle). With Thailand nearing the end of the rainy season, the river was at full strength and the magnificent view from the balcony made the modest guest house feel more like a 5 star palace.
An early start the following day meant we arrived in Baan Rom Po-Thai by 10am, in time for the official ceremony. Though I have attended a couple of similar events in Thailand, never one where I was the guest of honour. Unfortunately my Thai language skills are limited to ‘hello’, “thank you’ and the pointless statement ‘I can only speak a little bit of Thai’, but with some help from Daniel, the founder of Child’s Dream, I did manage to say a few words in the local language and have a translator to help with the rest.
The ceremony went on for about 45 minutes and was attended by the state’s education minister, teachers & pupils and even the military, who are permanently at the school due to the close proximity of the Laos boarder. As well as the speeches, there was some unexpected entertainment with a group of older students showing off their Shaolin skills, which included diving through a hoop of fire!
With formalities and fun over, the boarding house was officially opened and the children will start using it in the next couple of weeks. A great result for the kids and an achievement for the Footsteps for Good Team, 2013!
This is the 4th project for Footsteps for Good and with all projects, I get to hear the progress through emails and other updates. But nothing can substitute the experience of attending the actual ceremony; Meeting some of the kids that will benefit, seeing the trust and rapport that exists between Child’s Dream and the community and leaving confident that the pride the teachers and officials have in the boarding house, will ensure their involvement and the long term sustainability of the project.
For me, it’s off to Pai, a small town in Northern Thailand, for a weekend of R&R and to continue planning for the next trek in late January 2014.
For more information on why Child’s Dream build Boarding Houses, click on the link: