Anyone who has been around children long enough know that accidents are bound to happen. With over one hundred children here at Baan Unrak, we have to be ever watchful. Occasionally a boy or girl will fall down or otherwise get injured; luckily we have an outstanding relationship with nearby hospital, and our frequent visits allow us to come to know their limitations. Sometimes we have to be prepared to make the longer trip to the hospital in Ban Hui Malai or even Kanchanaburi. This was the case with our little boy Wonchai
A branch broke while Wonchai was climbing a tree, resulting in him freefalling down and landing on his back. He hurt his neck and we were very frightened –this kind of fall often results in paralysis. Staffs on hand were quick to cart him away and bring him to Kanchanaburi. After what seemed like a century but could not have been more than 3 or 4 days, he was released. The road to recovery was not over however; he had a cast on from his forehead to his lower ribs, and would need to wear it for some time.
We don’t know who was happier when he returned to Baan Unrak, him or his friends. They began to call him iron man, due to the cast and his mechanical movements. When you call his name he has to turn his whole body, and his friends find it silly. He moves confidently from one place to another despite loss of agility and flexibility. He has a strong heart, and is often trying to help people with no consideration to his own health. We’ve made sure everyone knows to be patient with his zeal and refuse his assistance, as his condition is quite serious and could be paralyzing for life if he does not heal appropriately. Sensing our angst he often plays with the staff, pretending to ride a bicycle or hop on the back of a motorbike. The incident has not robbed him of his humor, and every day he reminds us of the boundless energy waiting to once again be unleashed unto this world.
We are ecstatic at the work produced by Reanna Sawatzky, a volunteer with a mechanical engineering background. Thanks to her handy work we now have a mobile standing frame for Ishvari, our little girl who is not able to stand up on her own.
When Reanna arrived here at Baan Unrak, we were at an impasse. We had seen the impact standing could provide for Ishvari during her most recent hospital visit; she was introduced to a mobile standing frame for the first time, and her response in both attitude and physical stature were both positive. The challenge was in bringing the same type of chair to the home. We could not purchase it directly from the hospital – the only opportunity to get a proper chair was in an expensive and timely process of shipping one from America. We wanted what was best for Ishvari, but it was unclear how we could accomplish that goal.
Reanna suggested an alternative – she offered to make one herself using an unused traditional wheelchair we had from a very kind donor from Bangkok. Normally prototyping requires many iterations but thanks to her thorough measuring of our child and dubious analysis of available designs from America, after just a few minor adjustments we were able to see the fruits of her labor.
Our excitement continues to grow as Ishvari begins to understand how to move the chair on her own. She spends 30 minutes a day in the chair, and what once took 3 people many minutes to do (position her) now takes one caretaker less than 60 seconds. Special thanks to Reanna, and also to our kind sponsor from Bangkok who was prepared to spend a great deal money to bring the mobile standing frame one from America.
In this rainy season, our children did suffer from different skin diseases from ring worm to tinea cruris.
Neither medicine from our local hospital, nor some homeopathic medicines seemed to help. But, we were able to develop some remedies based on plants from our own garden. With supervision from Didi and our Medic, some of our children helped collect the plants and help make and distribute the remedies.
There was great communication among everyone and the effort was successful. Most of the skin diseases have gone away. Now, the weather is becoming drier and less humid and we expect that the skin problems will end along with the end of monsoon season.
In Baan Unrak, if there is a problem we try to find the natural solution and have found that many plants that grow in our garden can be used.
After the visit of an Ayurvedic Doctor, Dr. Ramesh Chandra from India, we realized that we have a treasure of medical plants here at Baan Unrak. We are now working to preserve the plants that are beneficial for the health. We already started to dry some plants and have been using them regularly. We have enriched the diet of the children with some herbs that are rich in minerals and vitamins.
Lately the children have been suffering from many skin diseases. We have tried hospital medicine, traditional medicine, and homeopathic medicine but nothing worked. We started with a new formula from the Ayurvedic medicine and a lot of ringworm and prickly heat disappeared in a very short time. Just like magic! Of course it was not magic; it is the natural treasure of special medical plants growing naturally in our back yard.
Now we try to utilize our special plants. A long time ago our garden used to be a jungle, and we are sure that soon or later we will come across more very unique and special herbs. It is our deepest desire to be able to restore and preserve the local indigenous knowledge of natural remedies. It breaks our hearts to know that slowly and surely this knowledge will be lost forever if no one will make an effort to save and preserve it.
Our mission here at Baan Unrak is not limited to our children’s lives – we believe in enriching and assisting all who in need or sincere on improving the life of others. As such, we often reach out to the community to involve ourselves in the development of others both in their day to day living and their ongoing education.
When we heard there were monks and educators interested in learning English, we asked our long term volunteer to teach them. He did not hesitate to begin immediately; later we learned that the 2 Mon Monks he is teaching came to Thailand from Burma for the sole purpose of learning English!
Our long term volunteer completed a TEFL teaching certification (a 160 hour course) to ensure he was doing a good job.
We started a recycling program last month and continue to expand on our efforts. One component of their ideas is to keep Mother Earth in the minds of everyone. We do this by drawing pictures of nature and send them to their sponsors.
Most of the children worked very hard on their illustrations. They put their full effort and love in it.
It was a pleasant time crafting and an opportunity to share with our donors how we could band together further over a common cause.
September 9th was the birthday of our founder, Didi Ananda Devamala. It was very nice to see that old children came back to visit – they even brought some gifts. The biggest surprise was in the evening time; the children took Didi away from the Meditation room and brought her back for a surprise. When she had returned she found room decorated beautifully with balloons and candles artistically set us around the pillars. The setting was beautiful and charming.
At the end of meditation, children surprised DiDi again by singing a Happy Birthday song from her town in Italy, in English and in Thai.
This was followed by the presentation of a video they prepared of the children singing other songs in different settings to show how often they think of DiDi.