Shraddha Ceremony (A Memorial)

Like every society, Baan Unrak has a collective life signed by different events. Some events are joyful, others are painful, as joy and pain are part of everybody’s life.

Not all the children have the fortune to have parental care, but still, parents are important. No matter what a parent did, they have given us the greatest gift of all… that is life. When a parent is gone from this earth, it is a motive of tremendous grief for everyone, especially for a child.

During the Covid-19 epidemic it has happened to 5 of our children from two different families. One lost the mother, the other the father.

The feeling of having lost someone important was weighing heavily over the children. So we made a ceremony with the purpose of liberating our mind from the heaviness of guilt, of unfulfillment and regret.

Collectively, we meditated…

Then, we made the following affirmations:

“Oh beloved universal Father, may the departed soul of your son/daughter attain higher and higher manifestation, to be free from his/her worldly obligations and find eternal peace.”

To alleviate the palpable sorrow from the assembly, among all the people present we repeated the following for ourselves:

“Beloved universal Father, you have freed us today from the social responsibility towards this departed soul. We return Your son/daughter to Your gracious lap with all the purity of our hearts. Oblige us by accepting him/her who is Yours.”

Then again:

“Oh beloved universal Father, may those of Your children who are separated from Your loving lap and subjected to the afflictions of mundane life, be not deprived of Your loving shelter at the end of their earthly sojourn.”

Incredibly, as we were going throw the ceremony we could feel how the air was becoming lighter and lighter. The feeling of heaviness was lifting away, and, in the end, a feeling of great purity remained.

The members of the two families started to distribute water to the people present.

As we were performing our ceremony, dark clouds were gathering at the horizon announcing a heavy rainfall, but as the offering of the water was going on, the clouds dispersed leaving a very fresh clean breeze.

It was so touching to see everybody coming forwards to accept a scoop of water (symbol of purity) in their palm to drink (as a symbol of unity and sharing). This simple gesture created a powerful bond among the assembly. It was a confirmation that we are family, that we are a society.

As children cannot stay for very long without getting dirty hands, the mothers had the idea of making small cups from tiny leaves.

It is our believe that this social function should be free. Nobody should incur debts or great expenditure to give the final farewell to their beloved ones.

In our own small way, we proved that a spoon of water could be more powerful than great offerings of money, food, or drinks.

This ceremony gave us all we need to move on in life after a great sorrow. It gave us a pure and light heart.

Baan Unrak Conscious Collection START-UP with Our Children Artistic Talent

Baan Unrak is assisting our youth to kickstart their career, while promoting our children art work.

Over the years, Baan Unrak Weaving products have been growing in popularity. We have finally launched online, selling around the world on Etsy and through direct sales.

Our very own Kushuma is taking leadership of this project and will be managing the sales. For Kushuma, this is the opportunity for her to improve her commercial acumen in her chosen field, while waiting for her classes to start in January.

Kushuma loves to dream and design clothes and accessories. With the help of Baan Unrak sewing center, her creations came to life…

Kushuma worked with volunteers Francesco & Laura to photograph her creations, while the children became the models to showcase the products!

Preparing for our online launch required a lot of hard work. Working together to bring this project to fruition requires organization and discipline, from imagination and design to product development and finally online selling. The team of children and Mom’s involved in this project learn and develop their skills together.

Below, some behind the scenes shots…

The children love to be involved and this inspires them for their own futures. During the photoshoot, Kong was quick to get involved, first with the heavy lifting and stage set up, and then, he surprised us all by striking a few poses for the camera, together with his sister Dokbua!

Kushuma is nervous putting her creations online, like every first-time seller would be, but she knows that this business is necessary to support the Children’s Home, the Women’s Project and to provide her a steady income to save and cover her living expenses while at University.

Here, Latika styled by Kushuma…

Kushuma has chosen to study Art and Design at the Srinakharinwirot University. This month she visited the University to meet with the Dean of the Art Faculty and the Innovation Management teacher. They were very impressed to hear that she already has a portfolio and manages her own business online. Meeting these teachers and hearing their feedback was exactly the confidence boost Kushuma needed to continue to pursue her dreams of working in Fashion & Design.

As well as our traditional weaving, we are also featuring a limited-edition hand-painted section on Etsy. During a workshop earlier this year with our volunteer Irene, the children created the most beautiful paintings of scenes from their imaginations.

You can support this initiative by purchasing a bag on Etsy or directly through Kushuma via email – baanunrakweaving@yahoo.com

…This is not the first time that we host a fashion show in Baan Unrak. Here, take a look at the first one: Baan Unrak Fashion Show! (September 2019)

You can find us online at:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/BaanUnrakThailand

Below, Baan Unrak new collection of shawls and blankets.

We will soon be relaunching our Baan Unrak Weaving Facebook and Instagram pages. Stay Tuned!

Art For The Heart

The teenagers have been involved in an art therapy laboratory with the Italian volunteer Roberta, a psychologist really keen on art, who deeply believes in art as a door to the soul.

The outcome of the laboratory was very useful for the educators of Baan Unrak, for them to know how to move on to facilitate the children’s growth.

In the laboratory, the unconscious emotions of the children resurfaced. Art therapy is such a powerful expressive mean, capable of connecting people with their deepest feelings.

Art can land in places where the conscious mind is unable to go. Art allows us to play, through colors, with parts of ourselves without taking us too seriously. Art allows us to rethink ourselves in order to reach new meanings and new life perspectives.

The first session of the laboratory was titled…

“Who Am I?”

A girl looking at her drawing said:

“I feel myself like this big tree, able with its shadow to protect the little plants and animals under it.”

When the children had finished drawing, Roberta used to spend some time with each of them talking about their drawings. One of them said to her:

“I am like this flower in the water. I need someone to grow up well, as the flower needs water to grow up.”

The next session theme was…

Crumbled Wall: the Power of Transformation

The idea was to start with the image of a crumbled wall and then rebuild it making it colorful and beautiful. Fixing the wall means, in a metaphorical way, to come closer to the tough times of our past, looking at them in a reparative way.

What does “Love” mean for you? What does “Being Loved” mean for you?

Most of the children feel really grateful for the love received and have an idea of love as something capable of saving lives.

If you were an emotion, which one would you be in this moment of your life?

The art therapy laboratory ended with the brightest question of all…

What is your greatest dream?

 

 

 

The Cosmic Boat, and A Dream Made Of Water

SuperElia built his first boat 5 years ago, while in the hospital doing chemotherapy cycles.

Now, the cancer came back. When he told Zia Caterina – she was already here with us in Baan Unrak – he said he would love to have another boat model, to build it, and give it as a present to the oncohematology unit of the hospital, as a memory of his passage. Just as he did the first time…

Zia sent a new boat model to Elia’s home. He was so happy. Then, she said to him: “This will be the boat that will bring you to Baan Unrak!”

“It is a Cosmic Boat, because to cross the oceans… you need a boat of a certain level”, assures Zia. It is an ideal boat, which also crosses fear, pain…

Elia loved the idea, and made it real:

“Elia is a winner, he is extraordinary”, says Zia about him. He is 25 years old now. He comes from Pantelleria, a dream island.

Naturally, he loves water and the sea. So when he became one of Zia’s SuperHeroes, he decided to be represented as a shark. A happy shark!

In Elia’s words, “Zia introduces you to who is suffering more than you, who is better, who is healed… The word SuperHero gives you importance, gives you… gives you strength.

The dream of healing, and being able to come to visit Baan Unrak, keeps him active today.
The dream of being on board of the Cosmic Boat, that will bring him here, is for Elia a vision of salvation.

It is a vision of beauty, a journey to embark on, a project to realize. A project that will bring Life.

A Dream of Water

Elia became the spokesman of the SuperHeroes for this new, beautiful project to bring drinking water to our Children’s Home, by digging a well into the ground.

The children of Baan Unrak drew, in the way they imagined it, the boat that will take Elia, as the representative of the SuperHeroes, to Baan Unrak. Enjoy it!

It has no boundaries the Courage that is born from Love, and that for Love is realized.
It doesn’t take into account any danger, it doesn’t listen to any reason.
It pretends to move mountains… and often does.”

UPDATE:

Elia was finally able to give the boat to his angels…

Baan Unrak is Opening Up!

Everything is blissful about May. The air is sweet, the weather is pleasant and the colors are vibrant. Water comes back to earth with refreshing afternoon rains. The trees that were yellow and brown in the dry season, become now green, blooming with flowers of vivacious colors.

Freshness comes back to our life.

The subtle changes in the nature tell us that changes need to come on other levels too…

RELIEF OPERATIONS

Our children’s last operation before the lockdown was a relief program to bring food to the poor of Sangkhlaburi and surrounding. Food provisions that could last for 3 months.

As we are gradually opening up, our first operation outside Baan Unrak is again to bring food to the poorest.

SCHOOL AT HOME

COVID-19 is almost gone and Thai people feel safer. It is time to open our doors, but the children cannot go to school yet, so the school teachers are coming to our Home!

The children are back to study in the mornings, but in a very dynamic way: they move all around Baan Unrak to meet their teachers. One hour here, one hour there… studying becomes more fun!

In the meditation room, the children learn math with Kru (= teacher) Na.

In the room under the dining hall they meet teacher Grace, who teaches them English.

When the hour is over, the next group of children comes…

Then the children move to the library where, for the next hour, they study science and math with Kru Ning.

Meanwhile, in the bamboo hut of the vegetable garden, the smaller children learn Thai language with Kru Ben.

In the farthest corner of the dining hall, the children go to study Thai with Kru Ying.

Even if school classes are held at the Home, the children already started to go outside occasionally, accompanied by their in-charge: Aye Moe for the girls, Tarit for the boys.

They go outside for small errands such as buying vegetables, bringing the garbage to the dump, helping to repair a house in the village, getting coconuts or… for those that got some money doing little jobs at the Home, buying sweets at the convenience store in town.

Ananda Purnima (The Most Blissful Full Moon Day of the Year)

It was on the 7th of May (Ananda Purnima) that we celebrated the birth of our guru and mentor. At 5 o’clock in the morning we started singing Baba Nam Kevalam, simultaneously in 3 different areas: on the water tank, among the ground floor columns of the pagoda, and on the wooden upper floor. We could still enjoy the blissful moon light…

At first there were only few of us, then more children came in…

When the first sun rays caressed our faces, all of the children were there, fresh and clean with gleaming pressed clothes on. The children were the life of the kiirtan, and the younger were even more intense than the older ones!

We celebrated out of gratitude and love for our Guru and hero, the special person that has brought Baan Unrak project alive. The person that has inspired thousands of people to do something noble in their life.

He is the master of mystics and spiritual seekers alike, and a loving father to the children of Baan Unrak.  It was not easy to recognize him when he was alive, as he was hidden among the ordinary people of the world, with the very simple manners of a perfect gentle man. Now that he left his mortal form, he is in the heart of the people that came in contact with his beautiful Neo-Humanist philosophy.

That is why it is natural for us to celebrate his birthday.

We do it with kiirtan: the singing of the universal mantra, Baba Nam Kevalam (= Love Is Everything) aloud while ideating on Universal Love. It gives a feeling of bliss and prepares the mind for meditation.

The children did the decorations the night before. The outcome was enchanting. Everything was beautiful. It was a perfect setting for our celebration.

Our special baker took time to go to the closed bakery to make a beautiful birthday cake to complete our celebration. We celebrated meditating, singing, and with sweets and smiles.

BAAN UNRAK AWARDS

In this special occasion, we also took the opportunity to reward the children that had performed outstanding actions of kindness and love to all.

Here you can see how we celebrated before:

A Great Day To Remember (2019)

A Special Place for a Special Occasion (2018)

Every year has a different flavor, a unique atmosphere… but the essence of it doesn’t change: our feeling of gratefulness towards Him.

This year, the birthday celebration of our spiritual master marked a turning point for us. It is the beginning of a new phase in Baan Unrak.

We will tell you more about the new changes in the next blog articles…

Coming Soon!

Dancers, Ready for Tandava!

We have been looking for so long for something that could help our children to overcome the scars of their troubled past, to remove fear and become brave.

Now, we found a treasure… from a very ancient time.

Shiva, the great yogi, introduced Tandava 7000 years ago. He taught this powerful dance to his disciples, for them to achieve physical and mental purity.

Back then…

Those were times of intense physical struggle for human beings. Nowadays, our struggle is different, but still the essence of struggle is the same. Our teenagers can tell you how difficult it is the process of growing up…

In those times, the actual family structure didn’t exist, and the task of raising children was completely depending on women. Shiva ideated this dance for men, to make them take responsibility, to feel a sense of duty to protect and take care for the weaker. To create in them a desire of welfare for all.

Tandava dance activates the glands in the body in such a way that you acquire a fighting spirit in life. Our children certainly need it to overcome the disadvantage of their upbringing, and to find their place in society. The hormones secreted through Tandava generate greater manliness and courage, fearlessness.

You might have seen statues of Shiva Nataraja (Shiva as the Cosmic dancer, the “Lord of Dance”). He is in this mudra:

Tandava dance is the foundation of the later classical dance of India. It is dominated by rhythm and jumping…

When you jump, you are weightless. Gravity pulls you back, but for a moment… you are flying. In that moment, some glands are activated in the brain. Those glands allow good memory and deeper thinking.

Human beings meet with crude desires, crude temptations… but that crude energy should not be suppressed, but transformed and elevated to higher emotions… and utilized for further development. Tandava dance is a great tool to transmute that energy, to achieve physical and mental purity.

Now, two of our best performers will demonstrate it for you:

…Dancers, ready for Tandava…

ONE, TWO, THREE

JUMP!

With the first jump, you jump as high as possible, and while in the air, you hit your buttocks with your heels.

Then you come all the way down, and with the second jump, you hit your chest with your knees.

Then start jumping, kicking the right foot up and to the left, while bouncing on your left foot. Land on both feet.

Then jump again, kicking the left foot up and to the right, while bouncing on your right foot. For a moment you are not touching the ground, then you come back and jump again.

Jump for one minute, two, three… as much as you can. As much as your strength allows.

Keep the arms as straight as possible. They symbolize the strength of your soul.

HAAAALT! Final jump!

With the last jump, again you hit the buttocks with your heels. Then prepare for landing…

THE IDEATION

In the left hand, there is a symbol of negativity: an object representing staticity, passivity…

In the right hand, there is a symbol of positivity: something representing the force of life, the strength to overcome difficulties, like the fire.

There is a fight between them. The forces of negativity are always around us, always trying to consume us, but we are struggling and, at the end of Tandava, the force of life has overpowered the force of staticity.

We perform Tandava collectively, after meditation in the night, all standing around the water tank, vibrating the whole place with this energetic dance.

When we dance Tandava all together, something happens to our chest area… The heart chakra opens up! We feel invincible, we can do anything. And there is…

…so much love for everybody!

Our Neohumanist Lifestyle (Part 2)

In the mornings, the children received in-depth classes on yoga philosophy. In the afternoons, they enjoyed doing kiirtan and meditation immersed in our beautiful natural surroundings. They were then free to play in the wild!

Classes on Yoga

The children learned the foundational principles of yoga: YAMA & NIYAMA. These principles are not the goal, but the basis for a proper life. They are guidelines for human development.

Discover these principles… exemplified by our children!

YAMA

To control our actions related to the external world…

1 . AHIM’SA’
Non-harm in thought, word and action. To the best of our capacity, we should never inflict pain or hurt on another living being. Cultivate the thought of welfare and love for all.

2 . SATYA
Benevolent truthfulness. Words should be helpful to others; they should be true; and they should be sweet-sounding.

3 . ASTEYA
Non-stealing. Not to take possession of things which belong to others, to refrain from both mental and physical stealing.

4. BRAHMACARYA
Universal thinking. To remind ourselves that we, and everything around us, are different expressions of One, Infinite, Loving Consciousness.

5 . APARIGRAHA
Simple living. Not to accumulate excessive or unnecessary material goods for a dignified life.

NIYAMA

To control our personal habits…

1 . SHAOCA
Purity of mind and cleanliness of body. To keep the body clean, not only externally but also internally, depends on what we eat.

2 . SANTOS’A
Mental ease and contentment. To be easily satisfied, and to infuse others with our cheerfulness and enthusiasm.

3 . TAPAH
Social service. Working for the welfare of others. Helping others without expecting anything in return.

4. SVA’DHYA’YA
Inspirational reading. To be receptive to deep ideas and higher thinking. This inspires us on the path of self-realization.

5 . IISHVARA PRAN’IDHA’NA
To meditate on the Cosmic Consciousness. This brings to the realization that you are one with That.

Kiirtan & Meditation

To assimilate these deep and powerful concepts, we walked down to our marvelous lake. The wonder of the Universe was all around us…

Kong was singing to the Universe from a bamboo raft, while the rest of us was on the edge of the cliff.

Then, we sat in meditation.

Kong was still there, meditating and floating in the middle of the lake…

Our Neohumanist Lifestyle is based on a proper balance between our external and internal life. For harmonious living, we have to develop both.

Our external life is how we deal with the physical world. It is how we relate to others and how we perform our duties and take responsibilities in society. It means to serve all.

Our internal life is our spiritual world. It is how we relate to our deepest self.

We shouldn’t neglect any of these two aspects of life. Hence, our motto:

Self-Realization and Service to All.

Our Neohumanist Lifestyle (Part 1)

The days at Baan Unrak start early, taking care of our bodies and minds with a winning morning routine made up of exercise, meditation and asanas (yoga poses). After a nutritious breakfast, each of us gets busy doing our assigned tasks.

WORKING TOGETHER

The boys take care of the garden guided by Pi Tarit, who grew up here at the Home and is now in charge of the teenagers. He is very knowledgeable about agriculture. Under his guidance, our organic garden is getting better and better day after day, bringing vegetables to the kitchen while also educating the children, and giving them purpose, and pride, in their work.

In the Garden

Watering the plants is a daily task, performed in the mornings and afternoons collectively. First, the children fill the watering cans from the water tanks, also recycling grey water from our “half baths” and dish washing.

Sometimes, Ishvari and Pa Muno come to cheer the young men at work!

For the boys, the compost pit becomes a long jump challenge! And for those failing the jump across, it’s a free fall into food scraps…!

In the garden, there is always a reward for the hard workers. Today, it was delicious jackfruit freshly cut from a tree.

Giving Love and Care

Ishvari is a special child, and she needs special care. Together with Pa Muno, her inseparable care giver, she goes to Bangkok once a year to do physiotherapy, learning exercises that she can do every day at the Home. Nandy, 10 years old, is her little helper.

Ishvari is also using a brand-new little car, appositely made for her: conceived by Didi, realized by our master worker Pi Heng. On 4 wheels, moving around is easy, active… and fun! …With another little helper: Kenioto, 2,5 years old.

Cleaning Home

Keeping our spaces clean and tidy is so much fun when we are all involved. Every child, big and small, plays his and her part. It’s a real team work!

Making Cheese!

Following Didi’s teaching, the children learned to make goat cheese… with the milk of our beloved goats of Baan Unrak farm!