30 Years of Baan Unrak – Part 2 ( 1997-2004 )

A brief history of the “Home of Joy”

1997

This is the year we met Me Lek. She became one of the pillars of strength of Baan Unrak. She came to us in search of refuge, but she ended up staying as a care mother. She is in charge of all small children and all care givers. Beside that, she became the main teacher in our kindergarten.

A delegation of the British embassy came to visit us and left a big donation to improve our weaving center. They also donated sewing machines.

In 1997, we became a registered organization with the department of Social Welfare in Thailand.

They recommended us to MEU, the social services of the Matsushita company of Japan. They rewarded us with a big donation, and our Didi went to Japan to collect it! Below, the ceremony and the awarded certificate of commendation.

With that, we bought our dream house. The owner gave it to us at half the original price, and it turned out to be exactly 20,000 USD, the money donated to us by the Matsushita company.

1998

Another year of growth. With the help of the British embassy, our weaving center was expanded. We switched from small looms to big looms to become more productive.

The children were trained to help others, by Didi, from the very beginning. Here we see Jyoti, one of our big girls, handing over a relief bag to a poor mother with her baby.

Jyoti motivated all the teenagers of our home to go to collect vegetables and bananas to be brought to the refugee camp. In this way, the Baan Unrak children relief program started, and it is still going on nowadays.

The children did not think only about themselves, but also about the people suffering around them. They grew to become part of the society.

We celebrated the marriage of our first grown up girl. The ceremony was conducted under the Ananda Marga Yoga system.

1999

This was the year of social recognition. The Australian Embassy awarded us with the AusAid grant, and the Australian Ambassador donated from his own fund to improve our kindergarten program and community study center.

It was a help beyond money, as they made the point to send their Minister of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, the Honorable Philip Ruddock MP and his wife, to our opening of the AusAID program. It created such diplomatic impact for us in Thailand, and a recognition among the local authority.

This event allowed us to upgrade all of our educational programs, kindergarten, study circle and community study center.

The Cultural program started at our home. The children performed in public for the first time, with the Karen traditional dance.

2000

A new millennium arrived, with challenges and sweetness. We got into so many sad things, but we also found out that miracles can come at any moment in life, and people were willing to help us in a very generous way.

In 2000, we opened up our arms to some seriously sick babies as a result of human trafficking. And we had our first encounter with HIV…

The baby was so sick that we feared for her life. But at the end of the year, the child suddenly became well. A miracle??? Or was the result of the test on antibodies defective? For us, it was a miracle that our baby survived.

A visitor came and was so impressed with our loving environment that he decided to give us a donation, which was enough for us to buy the small land aimed at making a sustainable project for the future.

2001

This was a year of blooming for Baan Unrak.

Didi A. Anuraga came back (she was also with us for one year at the beginning of Baan Unrak) to recover but she did not just sit idle. She started training yoga for kids.

This is our very first yoga performance in Bangkok, in the event of the Vegetarian exhibition in a big department store in Bangkok.

Visitors started to come more often to Baan Unrak. Our lovely environment had inspired the then young couple very much. They decided to get married and start a family life.

Angie, who used to be our visitor, fundraised in Japan for us and brought a group of English teachers to volunteer. It was the beginning of a long-lasting partnership. For 18 years their group has been fundraising and returning to Baan Unrak to bring happiness to the children and to celebrate Christmas.

2002

In this year we improved a lot our education and yoga performance.

Didi A. Anuraga gradually took over all the educational program in the home. She improved the programs and gave them more structure. In the photos below, our students wearing uniforms at the kindergarten, and at the primary school with professional teachers.

This year we had our first fundraising performance in Bangkok…

…as the children were doing yoga beautifully.

Even though there was a beautifully painted story behind the performance, the yoga overshadowed the hand-made backdrop, a creative way of “Yoga Theatre”!

2003

Another amazing year of growth and contribution. Our efforts were recognized and more and more help came.

Didi Mangala (now Didi Ananda Manimala) arrived at Baan Unrak. She assisted the sick children and started the Bakery & Internet Café, the place where our teenagers got vocational training. For this project Didi Mangala selected the 3 eldest teenagers of the home.

The Minister of social Development and Human Security Mr Anurak Chureemas presented a plaque of appreciation to Didi A. Devamala as an outstanding volunteer, for devotion and valuable contributions to the interests of Thai society. The plaque was given in the occasion of the National Social Day and Volunteer Day of 2003.

We made a great effort to register our schools. One of the requirements was to have a suitable building on a registered owned land. Our friends from Bike Aid Singapore organized a fundraising to make the school building. They biked all the way from Bangkok to Sangkhlaburi (about 400 km).

2004

This year, we saw the full circle of life. We saw someone making a new life, while someone had to go…

Our excellent girl Jyoti had grown up and it was time for her to get married. She left us after a beautiful ceremony cheered by all the children and staff of Baan Unrak. Didi and Dada conducted the marriage and wished them happiness.

With the funds raised by Bike Aid Singapore we could start to build our school.

Dr Mitra contacted with us earlier in the year. He came to assist the very sick people of Sangkhlaburi, and many of them had great results. Dr Mitra came with Dr Kun Monthaka, the representative of the Thai government for traditional medicine, to conduct researches on Homeopathic treatments.

There had been so much happiness all around the year, but we also had to accept some sadness. Some children came to us too sick and we had to send them to Rest in Peace, still with Love.

Stay tuned…

…for the continuation of our story!

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