Sangkhlaburi, Thailand [en]

SERVICE TOURISM – Sangkhlaburi, Thailand

 

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At Sangkhlaburi, Thailand, we visited 3 projects associated with the AMURT/EL Global Family – the Baan Unrak Children’s Home (House of Joy), the Baan Unrak School and the Baan Dada project

Sangkhlaburi, Thailand (Nov 2012)

Sangkhlaburi is located in the northwestern part of Thailand, along the border with Myanmar (Burma).

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As part of a hydroelectric project, a large part of this region was dammed up in 1982 to create a huge man-made lake. This took away the traditional land and agricultural livelihood of a significant proportion of the region’s population.  Although tourism is flourishing in this part of Thailand, many of the local people suffer from poverty and disease.

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A large number of refugees from Myanmar (Burma) fleeing war and persecution in their own country have settled in this part of Thailand.  Sangkhlaburi district is home to a diverse population of about 45,000 people. The larger part of the population is stateless, without nationality or proper human rights. These problems lead to separation in families, common diseases such as AIDS, malaria, typhoid and cancer and a general lack of education and belonging.

As a result, a significant percentage of the population is unable to care for their children and is forced to abandon them. In many cases the head of the household goes in search of work in Bangkok and never returns, which leaves the woman to take care of herself and her family by herself.

 

 Baan Unrak Children’s Home, Sangkhlaburi, Thailand

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It is against this backdrop that Didi Devamala decided to do something to help the poor children and mothers in the area.  Baan Unrak means House of Joy in the Thai language.  Starting with a single baby in 1991, Baan Unrak is now home to about 140 children as well as a number of abandoned mothers. The home provides food and shelter for children and aims to give them a better future.

 

 

 

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Didi Anuraga joined Didi Devamala and started to focus on the children’s education because they could not fit in well with the local Thai schools.  Baan Unrak provides educational and emotional support, so that these children can grow and develop into emotionally stable, confident, responsible and loving adults

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The home school developed into the Baan Unrak Primary School(registered in 2005) and beyond.  Today it has more than 200 children from kindergarten to secondary school. . Baan Unrak School receives a small amount of government funding, but this can be unreliable when there is political turmoil.  Most of its money and resources come from donations and sponsors.

Baan Unrak School, Sangkhlaburi, Thailand

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Many of the children are children of Burmese refugees with harrowing experiences of escaping from their home country and finding themselves unwelcome in their new country.  On top of psychological trauma, they also have to learn a new language.

Didi Anuraga joined Didi Devamala and started to focus on the children’s education because they could not fit in well with the local Thai schools.  Slowly, the school developed into the Baan Unrak School.  Today it has  more than 200 children from kindergarten to secondary school.

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Baan Unrak School Goals:

  • For students to realize their true potential and become self-reliant
  • To give hope to the children for a better future for themselves as well as their community as they become active citizens

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Philosophy:

Neo-Humanist Education emphasizes both academic and spiritual development.  With this approach, Baan Unrak School provides physical and mental nourishment through:

Individual care and support
Hands-on research projects that foster creativity
An accredited academic curriculum with a strong English emphasis
Encouragement of self-discovery and understanding of others
Focus on moral integrity and community service

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Baan Dada Children’s Home and Community Services is a project of the Neohumanist Foundation and is located near the Thailand / Burma (Myanmar) border. Baan means “house” in Thai and Dada is Sanskrit for “brother”. Baan Dada supports 61 disadvantaged children: 47 currently live at Baan Dada and either study, work or are too young to attend school, three are supported by Baan Dada in their studies but do not live at the Home, while 11 children live away from the home to attend university.

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Dada Ramakrishna (in pink), and Dada Prashanta (in brown top) lead the Baan  Children’s Home & Community Services. Their main objective is to empower the children through education, both formal and non-formal. They are encouraged and taught many subjects, including music, handicraft, art, language and technical skills. The children are taught to practise vegetarianism and respect all people, creatures and religions, based on the Neohumanist philosophy, “love for all created beings in this world”.

Unforgettable service-tourism holiday to Sangkhlaburi, Thailand

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We start the trip with an overnight stay at this houseboat ‘hotel’ on the man-made Khao Laem lake in Kancanaburi Province.

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Dawn breaking on the beautiful Khao Laem Lake

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An early morning swim and paddle – wonderful experience!

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A quick tour brings home the realization just how large this lake is!

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Back on land, we journey on to Baan Unrak in the colourful van of our hired driver for the trip

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Finally we reach Baan Unrak, the House of Joy.  First stop was a quick visit to the nursery school children whose play school is located in the Home premises.

Outreach to the Very Poor 

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The children of Baan Unrak are taught to care for others in need, in part through an Outreach program to provide basic foodstuff to very poor elderly people just across the Burmese border.
Our group was privileged to also participate in this Outreach program.

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Our visiting team takes part in Baan Unrak’s Outreach program to distribute basic foodstuff to the very poor

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Baan Unrak’s Outreach program distributes basic foodstuff to the very poor in bordering Myanmar

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Planting and harvesting rice is part of the Baan Unrak School curriculum which includes an agricultural component.  Here our visiting children experience the back-breaking task of harvesting rice, and gain new respect for the hard work involved in producing our daily bowl of rice.

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Planting and harvesting rice is part of the Baan Unrak School’s curriculum includes an agricultural component.  Here our visiting children experience the backbreaking task of harvesting rice, and gain new respect for the hard work involved in producing our daily bowl of rice.

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We join in the effort of producing mud bricks that will be used to build a new house for Didi Anuraga– a messy but enjoyable experience under the hot sun!

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We join in the effort of producing mud bricks that will be used to build a new house for Didi Anuraga– a messy but enjoyable experience under the hot sun!

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We join in the effort of producing mud bricks that will be used to build a new house for Didi Anuraga – a messy but enjoyable experience under the hot sun!

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This children’s tower at Baan Dada is made from the same type of mud bricks, as is also several other buildings at the Baan Dada complex.

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Our visiting member Yee Guat Yuen leads a class in a craft project – and finds the children of Baan Unrak School to be extremely creative, self-expressive and conffident.

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Our visiting member Yee Guat Yuen leads a class in a craft project – and finds the children of Baan Unrak School to be extremely creative, self-expressive and conffident.

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Our visit coincided with the Loy Krathong Festival –  and we enjoy a session on making beautiful ‘krathongs’ (decorative floats) with help from the children of Baan Unrak School

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The beautiful krathongs (decorative floats) are lit up with candles and set adrift – symbolizing the letting go of  anger, hatred, negativity

Baan Dada, Sangkhlaburi, Thailand

Dada Ramakrishna’s Eye Care Project:

This program provides free eye check-ups for the local residents in nearby and remote communities (more than 10 villages in Burma near the Thai-Burmese border as well as numerous villages and communities within Thailand including Sangkhlaburi). General examinations are given and eyeglasses are distributed if needed.

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Dada Ramakrishna’s Eye Care Project:

We visit Dada Ramakrishma’s Eye Care Project which provides free eye check-ups for the local residents in nearby and remote communities (more than 10 villages in Burma near the Thai-Burmese border as well as numerous villages and communities within Thailand including Sangkhlaburi). General examinations are given and eyeglasses are distributed if needed.

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The pharmaceutical stock room at the Mon National Health Hospital Clinic

Mon National Health Clinic at Paliang Japan Village on the border with Burma:

The visit to this basic hospital-clinic at the border between Burma and Thailand near the Three Pagodas Pass, Sangkhlaburi was an eye-opening experience for our visiting group from big city Kuala Lumpur

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The doctor and nursing team at the Mon National Health Hospital Clinic

Mon National Health Clinic at Paliang Japan Village on the border with Burma:

The visit to this basic hospital-clinic at the border between Burma and Thailand near the Three Pagodas Pass, Sangkhlaburi was an eye-opening experience for our visiting group from big city Kuala Lumpur

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Women’s ward (above left) and Birthing Chair (aboe right) at the Mon National Health Hospital Clinic, Paliang Japan Village, Thai-Burmese border near Three Pagodas Pass, Sangkhlaburi, Thailand

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Mon National Health Clinic at Paliang Japan Village on the border with Burma:

We present gifts of basic foodstuff to these patients at the Mon National Health Hospital-Clinic at the border between Burma and Thailand near the Three Pagodas Pass, Sangkhlaburi was an eye-opening experience for our visiting group from big city Kuala Lumpur

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Painting Project at Baan Dada

Our project at Baan Dada was to decorate the upstairs look-out station at this mud-brick children’s tower and give the rusted playground equipment a colourful new coat of paint.

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Painting Project at Baan Dada

Our project at Baan Dada was to decorate the upstairs look-out station at this mud-brick children’s tower and give the rusted playground equipment a colourful new coat of paint.

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Painting Project at Baan Dada

By the time we finished, it was nightfall – but we were happy with our good day’s work.

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Painting Project at Baan Dada

By the time we finished, it was nightfall – but we were happy with our good day’s work.

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Painting Project at Baan Dada

Our project at Baan Dada was to decorate the upstairs look-out station at this mud-brick children’s tower and give the rusted playground equipment a colourful new coat of paint.  First, the rust had to be sand-papered off …

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Painting Project at Baan Dada

By the time we finished, it was nightfall – but we were happy with our good day’s work.

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The children of Baan Dada put on a performance for us. They are accomplished band musicians and perform professionally to earn money to pay for their school fees and pocket money.

They also use their musical skills to help raise funds for neighbouring communities affected by disaster, as in the severe floods of 2011.

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Visit to the Bridge on the River Kwai

Before we knew it, our trip was coming to an end.  Before leaving Kancanaburi, we had to make time to visit the famous Bridge on the River Kwai

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