Adventures At Sea

This holiday season we’ve been lucky to go on vacation. This time we went to Pattaya! A generous sponsor invited us to his place: a big house immersed in the nature that could fit all of us easily. A perfect place to play our classic “holiday games”!

We also found a nearby school yard, the perfect space to play some more!
Our host was very friendly and helpful. He also brought us to his favorite museum in town: a temple with a collection of Chinese art. We really enjoyed seeing the paintings and sculptures through our sponsor’s knowledgeable eyes.

In the late afternoon, we would always go to the sea. We found our quiet spot in the southern tip of Pattaya bay, with the skyscrapers of the city in the background. The children loved playing, splashing and swimming in the golden light of sunset.

The children were divided into groups to perform the daily duties of cooking and cleaning. The same groups played against each other in the games, and every activity was given a score. Even the best ones to cook were awarded… 40 points! At the end of the vacation, the winners would be proclaimed.

The Island

One day, our volunteers wanted to give the children a special experience, and so we went to Koh Lan, a small island in front of Pattaya. We went to the pier, took the ferry and sailed across the sea.
Once on the island, we looked for a quiet spot away from the mass of tourists. And so, from the main beach we walked along the rocks, exploring… until we could see a solitary beach in the distance. Full of joy, we climbed further.
When we got there, the sight before our eyes was disarming: plastic, plastic, plastic, and more plastic. Rubbish everywhere. Once an idyllic natural place, now ruined by humans. It’s alarming to see what we are doing to our planet.
The dismay of the grownups was counterbalanced by the unshakeable positive attitude of the children that – being special, pure creatures – were able to see beyond the piles of rubbish. In no time, they were already at work building a raft with all that waste material. It was surreal, poetic to witness.
What would have been a failed excursion for the grownups, became another exciting day in the life of the children. It was a great lesson for us adults.

Not only Pattaya…

Some other children spent the vacation time in Bangkok. Others went to Burma (Myanmar) accompanied by our teenager-in-charge Aye Moe. According to the reports – and we have no doubt about it – they all had a lot of fun too!

A Journey Back Home

We had the honor to host a regional conference of Ananda Marga here in Baan Unrak. The theme of the conference was “A Journey Back Home”.

It signifies the Journey that every human must undergo in order to come to know their true essence. To find that point of equipoise and peace hidden in everybody’s heart.

We wanted to give the best to all our guests. That required a lot of work and sacrifice from everyone included the children. And they did their best, as many of the grownups were absent due to the vacation time.

The first to come one early afternoon were two monks of Ananda Marga, also called Dadas. They were very impressed with our children and our children very attracted by them.

The long hair and bears, the flowing orange robes, their magnetic smile. Everything was unusual and interesting. One of them was also a master skateboarder, and beside that, he was a former champion of Muay Thai. The time that our children spent with them was enjoyable.

After few days, more Dadas and Didis (monks and nuns of Ananda Marga) came. We listened to their talks, stories and jokes, and also chanted and meditated with them.

After the Acharya meeting, we expected more Ananda Marga guests. This time they were family people, and some of them brought their children too.  They came from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand. We had more than 70 guests all together. Our facility was very full.

They had their special meetings, and from our side we made sure to join them in most of their meditation sections. Incredibly, together with them we could easily extend our 15 minutes chants and 15 minutes meditation to 20 minutes and sometime to 30 minutes. It was amazing to be with them, as it is among family members.

We longed to have even more time to spend with our guests. In the last day of the conference we had the opportunity to perform for all of them. We gave our best, we sang our best songs and danced our best dances. It was so engaging and enchanting.

The next day most of our friends were leaving, but some decided to remain over for a very unique spiritual excursion, discovering the beauty of Sangkhlaburi and the majestic Kao Len lake aboard a floating house.

Our children and volunteers took this opportunity to enjoy a bit longer of our guests’ company. So they rented another floating house to move along with our guests to guide and assist them. The spiritual energy of our guests bubbling up with the pearl of laughter and splashing of water of the children.

The combination of the purity of the ones with the innocence of the others. It was a unique experience that stole the hearts of our guests forever. In this way they will never forget this place and never forget us.

The Holidays Begin!

The sun is shining once again on Sangkhlaburi, and the rainy season is by now a faded memory… except for an occasional afternoon shower from the sky.

The school is closed, the children are at home, and the spirits are high! So… let the holidays begin!

Pavitra is Back!

A long time friend of Baan Unrak, our dear volunteer Pavitra is back once again, as usual, for the holiday time of our children. He takes care of them, make sure that they do some work in the mornings, bring them to swim at the river every afternoon, and much more..!

At the River

This holiday season we’ve found a new secret spot in the jungle, perfect for climbing and jumping into the water…

…and a perfect spot also to wash clothes and roll in the mud!

And perfect also for a letal sand balls battle!

Picking Vegetables

One day, we ventured deep in the jungle to go find vegetables for our kitchen. It turned out to be a lot of fun too!

And a Big Event is Coming…

We’ve been also very busy fixing our home, and preparing everything for a yoga conference that will start very soon, right at our Children’s Home!

Some very special people have already arrived at our Home…

Run Sangkhlaburi!

This Sunday some of our children and volunteers joined the Sangkhlaburi Three Rivers Run. The organizers were so kind to invite us to be part of the race for free!

We jumped out of bed at 4.30am, and by 5am we showed up at the starting line extremely excited, and perhaps a bit intimidated by the sight of a crowd of pro runners..!

Ready, Set, Go!

As the klaxon sounded everybody sprinted off.

Wanchai was quick to take the lead, with the others in close pursuit.

For little Phudoy, running was not enough. So he was jumping and flying through the race!

The runners passed in front of our Bakery too! And some of us even preferred to run barefoot, leaving their shoes right at the starting line..!

We all eventually stumbled across the finish line after a crazy 5km. Tired, but happy!

And to recover…

The Ice Baths!

…with little icebergs floating around!

The kids’ batteries were not over yet. In fact, they had extra energy to go swimming! So we headed to the lake…

Running Some More!

At the Lake…

In a state of grace after the race, little Phudoy was even able to meditate on the water… floating!

Taking Care of the Dogs

We love animals here at Baan Unrak! We have a few cats and dogs that the children are taking care of. Unfortunately, we haven’t had enough help to care for them as they fully deserve. Our newest volunteer, Cristina, is fixing this! She is teaching us how to care properly for the animals. Everyday she takes the children with her to walk the dogs and is showing how to keep them clean, happy and healthy.

Caring for animals is an important part of feeling calm and relaxed. If you show a pet love, it loves you back. They can be instant family and listen to all of our problems without judging us. We can tell them secrets and share laughs and games. If we can learn to care and love animals we are sharing our joy in the world and becoming calmer, more relaxed people.

 

Homeopathy for Sangkhlaburi

This weekend the village was visited by a very special homeopathic group and doctor. They came to offer their services and expertise to the village and Baan Unrak, and we were delighted to be able to host them.

Homeopathy is a type of alternative medicine that focusses on “treating like with like”, by giving a small amount of what causes the illness – diluted many times in water – as the medicine.

Homeopathic doctors listen to their patients and understand all aspects of their lives before giving treatment. This is highly effective for many people, and the previous visit from the same group was a huge success. We are so pleased to have their help again, especially after the illnesses brought by the rainy season.

The doctors opened up a clinic at both the school and the bakery on Saturday 14th, Sunday 15th and Monday 16th December. People came from all around the village and neighboring area to receive medicine.

The children of Baan Unrak did their duty to make everyone feel very welcome and comfortable. They served up drinks, snacks and meals freely to everyone with big smiles and helped with all the cleaning afterwards.

Of course, we can’t forget the hard work of the staff at Baan Unrak Bakery. They made sure delicious meals were served to our guests and helped to cater for the crowds.

These few days have been very good for recovering body, mind and soul. We are incredibly grateful that our little village was remembered by this group of homeopathy students and doctor and hope they can come back again in the future.

What a Birthday!

The 9th of September started as an ordinary day at Baan Unrak. The children woke up and gathered for the morning meditation, then they had breakfast and went to school. Not a single word was heard about a birthday during the whole day.

The previous years, on this same day, the children had prepared something very special, very beautiful.

One year ago, they had decorated the whole lunch room for this occasion!
Two years ago, they chose the meditation room as the setting for the celebration.

And this year… nothing! Apparently… nothing.

Could it be that the children had forgotten about Didi’s birthday?

The day went on, the sun set, and the children gathered all together once again for the evening meditation.

Yet, again, nothing special happened. And everybody left…

Almost everybody! A few children remained and clustered around Didi. Suddenly, a couple of girls appeared from down the corridor. They were bringing a cake, and Didi’s eyes brightened up!

The cake was shared among the few children present. It was a beautiful, intimate moment, in the dim light of our meditation room by now emptied.

Then, we said goodnight, and everybody went to sleep…

And that was it? Was it really over just like that?

Meanwhile, somewhere on the road to Sangkhlaburi…

…Tarakanat – the first baby of Baan Unrak, now a man – was speeding his way to the Children’s Home, trying to make it before it was too late.

He was coming all the way from Bangkok, bringing something very special. And all the children were – secretly – waiting for him, trying hard not to fall asleep.

9 pm, 9:30 pm… still nothing. It was getting very late – at least for us, early birds of Baan Unrak who wake up before sunrise.

At last, well past 10 pm, we heard the sound of a car approaching. And everybody got ready to put the plan into action!

Our big surprise to Didi!

When Didi was accompanied down to the courtyard, she found the children holding candles in the dark, making a path of light for her to walk through.

This path was leading… to the new study room! Here, in the basement of our lunch room, is where the children had prepared their surprise for Didi, passing completely unnoticed.

And finally we could sing “Happy Birthday!”, “Buon Compleanno!”, and “Suk San Wan Gert!”

Then, Tarakanat gave the present to Didi. It was a big box where, lost among countless strings of paper, there was…

…a sack of rice!

“Open! Open!”

Hidden inside… a brand-new laptop was waiting for Didi! It was a much needed gift, to replace her old one.

38 (38!!!) former children of Baan Unrak had saved their money together to buy it.

Didi was visibly moved by this gesture of her children. And when she switched the laptop on, she even found her picture on the desktop, together with the names of all that contributed.

To top it off, the moment of throwing candies could not be missed!

And finally, everybody went to sleep…