We are known in Sangkhlaburi as a children’s village. We are a tiny community within the confines of the city limits. As our own community we experience all the joy and the sorrow that naturally occurs in every social group. We enjoy the gift of life and mourn the sorrow of death like most.
Since we built Baan Unrak in 27 years, we witnessed joyful births of so many babies as well as the agony of losing loved ones we held dear. Recently we had to carry the burden such agony with the passing of Mya Win.
Mya Win was an elderly widow who came to us with her youngest daughter many years ago. She was a very sweet and loving lady with a beautiful voice and a soft smile. She helped us to look after several little boys, taking special care of our rambunctious Chidatama. She took care of him like her own son since he was an infant. She was an anchor of strength for her other daughter who landed into a difficult marriage.
We didn’t realize her life was in jeopardy until it was too late. She went from healthy to weak so suddenly – we took her to the hospital immediately but there was nothing they could do. The cancer was in her heart and had already spread. The Doctor gave her two weeks to live, and they were right on the nose. No matter how much we tried to help her with natural medicine and prayer, there was nothing we could do. She left in a beautiful way though, surrounded by her daughters. She asked for permission and when her oldest daughter granted it, she closed her eyes for the last time.
When people come to visit us they think that Baan Unrak is a very peaceful and beautiful place. They adore our loveable children. Nobody could imagine the struggle and sacrifice behind our serenity.
We have a team of dedicated workers that sacrifice on a daily basis to make sure that every single child in Baan Unrakhas the capacity and opportunity to smile.
We have care givers that dedicate their lives for the development of our children.Theyfollow the children24 hours a day from spanning from infancy to teenager. When the children become teenagers they move in witholderchildren but their care giver still checks up on them and guards them from afar.All staff take their jobs seriously, from cooking to cleaning from the office to the guard house – they are unified in their mission to educate and develop our young ones.
Most of the children and staff are from Burma. They have the share in their struggle for citizenshipand the right to simply live out their lives freely. The matter becomes graver with age, as they can be fined, arrested, or even deported!
The Burma government is becoming stable, so opportunities in our neighboring country are increasing. As a result, all of the Southeast Asian countries forming the ASEAN trade bloc are increasing mandatory, uniform rules for Visas and Travel Documents.
It is quite difficult as many of our workers are very simple and afraid of authority. They carry worry with them every day, fearing the worst. We apply our best efforts to obey the law and ensure our workers are legal.
Right now we are in frenzy, sending staff back and forth between Sangklaburi, Kanchanaburi, Bangkok and Burma. Every worker’s situation differs and requires special documentation. The process is very time consuming, and taxing on our budget. It is quite difficult for our employees to complete all by themselves. It is imperative we assist in any way we can.
We are almost through the gauntlet – we share these calm moments with a smile amongst ourselves. We hope they will continue to feel good. If our team feels good, our children will feel good.
Education is so important for our children. Since the beginning of Baan Unrak, we have tried to provide them a harmonious and balanced education that stimulates the joy of learning. Of course, many of our children have suffered abuse and trauma, which can put them at a serious disadvantage when they enter and attend school, for they can lack self-esteem and carry lingering fears in their hearts. Many of our children have special physical and psychological needs it is difficult to meet with our budget constraints.
So, for all of our children, we have no doubt that education is the key to opening the doors of the future. With the assistance of our friends, sponsors and volunteers, we try to create programs that enable our children to learn and thrive.
Anna, one of our volunteers who was very passionate about meeting the needs of children who were lagging behind, helped us set up a special homework system to keep the children on track. Other friends such as Paula helped us start the Baan Unrak English Academy to provide extra English classes after school and on the weekends.
Because of the effort of so many friends and volunteers now we can feel Baan Unrak Children’s home is also a center of learning that can help prepare our children and young adults for all the challenges and blessings of life.
Even though the education challenges are constant, we do feel we are seeing great improvement among some of our troubled children, as they feel freer to use their talent and intelligence. Also, our stronger children continue to advance academically, with many preparing for college, taking the role models of other Baan Unrak children already successful in college. As our older children grow in kindness and success, they give the younger children constant inspiration, and together we all remain committed to fight for the future of every single Baan Unrak child.
We thank all of our supporters for having sustained us and helping us come so far.
Every month Baan Unrak bring relief goods to the very poor people in the Sangklaburi district. Sometime is quite difficult to maintain this program because of our strict budget. Mostly we gave only rice for their monthly need even we know that there is they need much more than that. At the time we take advantages of visitors and volunteers to bring them to our regular trips into the community. Sometime our guests are kind enough to offer more help.
This month we were quite lucky to have our two friends Pavitra and Eleonor take a big step in changing a family’s living condition. Eleonora and Pavitra are long term volunteers who fundraise in Europe and visit us here every year.
This month there was a situation of extreme need which we could not in any way afford to help. Eleonora and Pavitra became our benefactors. A mother and her 3 children were living in a hut with a partial roof. It was not enough to shelter them from the scorching sun let alone the torrential rain. This year has had a long rainy season that has not yet ended.
Pavitra and Eleonora did not fix the grass roof. Instead, they bought a tin roof. The mother will not have to worry for the next 10 rainy seasons. Hopefully there story inspires more visitors and volunteers so that we may alleviate suffering of others.
We’ve known for a long time the importance of Aloe Vera.
We have several Aloe Vera plants around Baan Unrak, and the care mothers take care of them very well. Unfortunately, we hardly use them because they are too young/small and we are too many.
To really be beneficial, the plant must be at least 5 years old. We had been willing to wait until recently, when a patient at the local hospital was told they only had 2 weeks to live. We do not want to give up on the life of anyone so we began an intensive search for larger Aloe Vera plants of a certain variety, which has been used to extend the lifetime of similar patients in the past.
As we were searching for such a plant, incredibly we are lucky enough to connect with a kind man (Khun Nattapon Yothin Sittichai) from Prachuap Khiri Khan Province in Thailand. He used to grow commercial Aloe Vera, but now he was doing other businesses; he was kind enough to donate all of his remaining plants. We were overwhelmed with joy for it was not only enough for our patient but also our children.
While the children do not suffer from the same ailment, they can also benefit from Aloe Vera, as it can improve memory and physical health.
A team of our children went on a 7 hour trip to Prachuap and came back with a bounty. Everyone remains overjoyed at the kindness of Khun Nattapon and on seeing so many plants full of vital fluid and beauty.
Everybody instinctively understood the inner potential of these plants and nearly all the children in Baan Unrak have contributed in caring and transplanting the Aloe Vera flora.
Everyone knows how important water is for all living things, and we here at Baan Unrak are no exception. Water is the source of life, even in origin. For many years, we celebrated Loykrathong (Thai traditional festival in honor of water) Unfortunately we were unable to go this year, so we held our own little party to send love and show appreciation to Mother Water.
Here within our community walls we filled a little swimming pool with water and placed flowers and Krathongs (decorative boats made of leaves and flowers) inside.
During our quaint and intimate ceremony the moon appeared from behind the clouds and made the entire event magical.
Our elder children tried to spread our own joy to others by building beautiful Krathongs to sell at the festival.
We also sold cakes and clothes to benefit Baan Unrak. As the market reached its peak during the night, the smaller children joined the larger children in participating at the festival.