Day One teaching: 10 out of 10
Trip Start Nov 06, 2009
354Trip End May 28, 2011
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Next stop was a brief visit to the high school - not to teach but to arrange for some of us to give a few lessons there next week as there are enough volunteers at the moment to have an additional group there as well as in the primary school. We arrived just before the end of the the school day so got to hear the final bell ring and see all the students pile out of the classrooms and file up in neat cross-legged rows in the playground for afternoon registration before they were allowed home
Then to the Home and Life orphanage in Thai Mueang. The orphanage was set up a couple of years after the tsunami and is now home to 20 children aged between 5 and 17. Some are there as a result of family breakdown/violence/poverty, others had parents killed in the tsunami, and some are economic orphans of the tsunami, i.e. their parents couldn't afford to support them after the wave destroyed the local economy.
I've never been to an orphanage before and wasn't sure what to expect, but delighted to discover that it's a fantastic place. Run by husband and wife Root and Rasa Maneejak, and a small team (including Padita the cook and Thai dance teacher who lives there with her own two kids as she lost everything in the tsunami), the whole emphasis is very much on creating a family atmosphere of love and learning.
And it's obviously working. The kids are brilliant. Really playful, so happy to see us and eager to learn. They go to school every day like any other kids would - we'd seen some of them earlier at the primary school. After school they're picked up in the Home and Life truck and each Tuesday Ken's volunteers spend a couple of hours playing with them and running lessons in English
We split them in two groups - the older kids had some exam prep to do, whilst Nat and I ran the 'Seaside' lesson with the younger ones. We really loved it - the kids were great, so receptive, and actually quite competitive with each other, particularly when it came to completing a couple of wordsearches and word scramble exercises we got them to do at the end. A real treat to teach!
To help make ends meet Root and Rasa have also set up some projects to make the place more sustainable and generate some income. A couple of industrial ovens have been donated so the orphanage has it's own bakery, producing bread (which we got to sample - delicious!), muffins, biscuits, cakes and even pizzas. They've built a fish farm breeding catfish, and have also recently started an organic farm growing chilli, garlic, herbs, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, aubergines, pumpkins, papaya and bananas. The kids are involved in all of the projects, and the produce is used to feed them but also sold to the public at the local market. The kids help to sell stuff, along with the handicrafts they enjoy making after school (such as the bead bracelets they gave each of us when we arrived) at the local saturday market.
The time passed so quickly and I didn't want to leave. Really looking forward to seeing them again next week!