A brief history of the “Home of Joy”
A new year, a new growth for Baan Unrak. A year of achievements.
Our school was built. A real school!!! Dada Shambushivananda, the Kulapati Head of the Gurukula schools, came to the inauguration of our new school.
Our Children’s Home became so full of children that we started to consider to move to another place. The school needed our land too. The school needed to possess at least 2 rai of land (= 3,200 square meters) as one of the requirements to become fully accredited with the Thai Ministry of Education.
We were lucky enough to get a donation from a kind sponsor from Italy to build the new house on the top of a hill.
At the end of the year Boboy, a Filipino baker arrived, helping to make our Bakery more professional.
The home had a radical change.
We moved to the New BIG HOUSE!!!! with all the excitement and challenges. Our previous house was no longer enough for us and the school needed to make a kindergarten on it. The new house construction was completed, and so we transferred to the hill with all our 100 children.
It was a challenge to transport our children to school. Our new house had no road or pathway. We had to take them by motorcycle, walk, and even raft… And one day, we made a bamboo bridge, so the kids could pass to the other side easier.
The first thing we did when we arrived in the new land was to plant trees, in the memory of every child that passed away and could not come to the new land with us. And finally, we were happy to be in our home.
This year began in difficulty, but ended bright and beautifully.
Early in the year, one mother was so tired and slept very late without blowing off the candle. In the early morning the candle set fire to the mosquito net and then the mattress. She was in shock. She could run out of the hut but could not alert anyone. So the fire went from hut to hut and everything was destroyed.
Luckily, nobody was hurt. The mothers and their babies were safe, and the fire was soon put off.
We did our first youth camp with the Brighten Foundation. We went on a floating house to an island behind our home. And another camp took place later in the year for girls only.
Our community had become so big!
After overcoming the challenges of the previous year, with many accidents and a disaster (the Flood), 2008 is one of those years full of sweet memories.
Our meditation center was partially completed on top of the hill. The International Meditation Conference was held at Baan Unrak Children’s Home. The chanting and meditation were performed at the place that we call Baba Room, or the Pagoda…
As a part of the conference, one Revolutionary Marriage (the interracial/international/casteless/non judgemental marriage) was done. The Bride is Bashanti from Philippine and the Groom is Glen from UK. Bashanti was brought up in an Ananda Marga Children’s Home and we were very grateful that she chose our home for such a special day of her life. It formed a beautiful connection between different Children’s Homes.
In the meantime, our children’s effort in the relief work became more organized after the flood of 2007. Our children actively helped the communities, especially the ones affected by the flood.
There used to be another children home in Chumpon, Thailand. It was closed after some time, and all the children moved from there to Baan Unrak with Didi Anuraga. One of them is Sadhana. She moved to Sangkhlaburi as a senior high school student, and in 2008 she graduated at university. Below, Sadhana is receiving the certificate by the then Honorable Prince of Thailand.
This is the year of pride, of kindness, of starting new things…
Sopa is the second Baan Unrak child to graduate. She studied Law at the university. She chose this subject with the strong determination to come back and help our stateless children to get legalized. She did that and many children became Thai because of her effort.
Baan Unrak concern is to help all. We had an opportunity to do something special when a volunteer couple, Filippo and Ester, came with enough funding. The couple guided by Jacopo, one of our long term volunteers back then, installed a water system with 400 meters of pipes, completed with water tanks and faucets for a village deep in the jungle.
Our teenagers started a program to help the elderly. They went to visit them, listen to their stories and assist them.
Our teens and grown up children started to assist to sell baked goods from our Bakery at the market, as part of the program to learn livelihood while also earning some money for their home. Here, with Harjinder Banga.
While there was already a yoga group, we started a Hip Pop group! With a new series of street performances, including performing to the charity fairs in Bangkok.
Sometime the unrest in our neighbour country Myanmar could be felt even in Baan Unrak. We heard shooting, and at least 5,000 people fled to Thailand. Everything was under control of the Thai army, but these people needed to be fed and protected from the cold nights.
Baan Unrak and other NGOs in the area cooperated to help these people. Overnight Baan Unrak was able to collect blankets for all of them. We cooked for them, we brought water and provided medical assistance (Dr Paolo was in our team).
Even when the girls did have a good house, our boys still used to leave in huts. Finally we got a donation good enough to start building a good home for the boys.
Brighten foundation used to visit us every year to hold a youth camp. However, this time, beside the usual games we had a game to understand the creation of the universe and the evolution of the species. Here, the children building up a dinosaur with their own bodies.
A year full of accomplishments and new beautiful programs.
We became partner with the local high school. We signed a contract with the authority to open junior high school classes at Baan Unrak school under the home schooling program. This was a great achievement, as we knew that our children needed our coaching for some more years. Teenage years are such a sensitive time.
We organized a wonderful program for 22 of our children. They had the opportunity to travel to Singapore and Malaysia with the support of AirAsia company. It was an incredible cultural program. The children had the opportunity to show their skills in singing, dancing and acrobatic yoga performances.
We completed the construction of our Boys’ House. Finally!!!
In this year, we slowly made our infrastructure better and better.
We decided to dig a well. We were trying to solve our chronic water problem. Siamgroundwater.co.th came for a survey and for the drilling. It was the beginning of a long time struggle to secure water for our children and single moms.
The memorable adventure of the boys by bicycle. Our teenagers studying in Bangkok took a big challenge, cycling 400 km from Bangkok to Sangkhlaburi. It was an attempt to raise consciousness about Baan Unrak, and at the same time a fun adventure for them to experience.
We started building a new kitchen (our current kitchen).
We connected with wonderful visitors and volunteers that have left a great impression in the minds of our children.
…for the continuation of our story!