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…

Baan Unrak Fashion Show!

It was a bright Sunday afternoon, and the children were happy and proud to wear the clothes of our Weaving Project, hand-made with love by our single mothers at Baan Unrak.

The children were free to choose their favorite pieces, try them on and show them off in front of the camera. We found the perfect location under the shade of the wooden Pagoda, on the top of the hill where our Children’s Home lies. And so, our very special fashion show started!

Our Weaving Project started back in 1995. Our products are sold in our local shop, at Baan Unrak Bakery in the village of Sangkhlaburi, but you can also order and purchase them online, getting in touch with us via email.

You can see the catalog of all our clothes and accessories here.

All the profits support our Children’s Home.

Relief Expedition in Flooded Burma

We would like to raise three cheers for this team. They have just come back from another relief trip in Burma (Myanmar). We would like to give a special mention to two particular men: Ball and Haeng, for their tireless efforts in leading the program.

The past few months Burma has suffered from heavy rainfall and flooding, meaning whole communities are left with flooded homes, and without food and water.

Baan Unrak wanted to help. After gathering all the resources we could, we knew it wouldn’t be enough. So we asked our donors to step forward if they would assist.  We were delighted at the response and received generous sponsorship to buy food and water to give to those in need.

Ball and his friends, ex-children of Baan Unrak, were eager to help. Although they are Thai, they know that most of the people in the Sangkhlaburi area have Burmese ancestry. To honor them they wanted to help with the relief.  It was very moving to see the huge response from Thailand to help fellow human beings in trouble. Trucks from all around the country congregated at the border to offer assistance. Some were unable to pass through security but the Baan Unrak team proceeded forward.

Alone, Ball ensured the car was fixed and roadworthy, the supplies were purchased and were all safely secured in the vehicle.  Together they traveled by car, motorbike, boat and on foot to deliver food, water and support to the worst affected rural areas of Burma.

Haeng, being Burmese himself and the husband of an ex Baan Unrak child, was invaluable. He was able to lead the crew through Burma to the most isolated areas.  The assistance was welcomed and gratefully received everywhere.

We cannot give all the credit to this team– a second group, all ladies, ventured into Burma. They gathered together clothes and supplies from Baan Unrak and took them to our partner school in Burma. We are blessed to have such selfless people working with us.

Relief work forms a key part of Baan Unrak’s work in Thailand. We continue to offer monthly service to the nearby community by buying and delivering food to those that cannot buy their own. We see this as a priority in order to ease human suffering and will continue to do all we can.

Our Mothers’ Day

Last Monday was a day that touched all of us deeply. It was the day that we celebrated our mothers. And even if only a few were lucky to have their mother in the room, we were all meditating on the same thing.

Many of our children come from difficult realities, some of them were even abused by their own family, yet the tears they shed in this very special day, were tears of unconditional love. There was no anger, but sadness in their eyes.

The children had planned this day all by themselves, as a surprise for all the adults and, especially, the mothers. And so, with all Baan Unrak reunited in the meditation room, Didi and the care-mothers were invited to take a seat, while the children were singing songs to remember and honor the mothers.

Here is the translation of one of the songs the children sang:

Letter to Mom

“My teacher wants me to write a letter to my mom,
she says I can give it to her later.
This is really difficult, because I have no mom.
How am I gonna do?

Is that true that mom’s hug is warm?
I only have a dream,
that is to eat with my mom.

No mommy sings me songs,
no mommy by my side,
holding a pillow I sleep alone.

I have nothing to write,
but I have to get it done.
I can’t stop crying.

Oh mommy please listen to me,
no matter where you are,
give me some love,
could you?

Oh mommy if you can hear me,
I swear I will be a good child,
as best as I can.”

The air was filled with emotion…

The care-mothers were the first to express their gratefulness to Didi.

Right after, the children formed a long queue all over the meditation room, and one by one, from the smaller to the bigger, they bowed in front of Didi and performed a purification ritual.

The child would pour a bowl of water in Didi’s hands, then she would pour that water on the child’s head, as if to wash away the bad things of the past.

After the ritual, many children fell in Didi’s arms with an emotional hug.

We all felt uplifted and regenerated afterwards.

The day went on, and there was a surprise awaiting the children too. The distribution of KitKat from our sponsors…!

…and a Nutella party offered by our guests!

The celebration of our mothers was not over either. In fact, another surprise awaited Didi in the night. The children called it “Happy Birthday Mother Day”! And there was even a cake, with many candles!

Click here to see how we celebrated Mothers’ Day last year, and here to see this special day two years ago.