When trees get too tall and they start becoming a danger to the girls’ home and the tree house (counseling room) something has to be done to ensure everyone’s safety. So, before the rainy season started and things could go from bad to worse we had a couple of local workers cut the trees. There were quite a few trees that needed trimming, about 50 in total. Most of the trees were fine after the tops were cut off and about half of the trunk remained but some of them had to be cut down completely. All the trees were cut without too much trouble except for one. That tree started turning during its fall and there wasn’t enough time to correct the direction it was falling in. On its way down it clipped the corner of the counseling room causing damage to the roof, railing, and platform surrounding the tree house. Because we first had to clear out all the wood that had been cut down it took quite a while before any repair work could be done. The counseling sessions were temporarily done elsewhere to the girls’ great dismay. Our therapist also had to do a bit of improvising and adjusting to the new situation. Everyone was really happy when the repairs were finally complete and it was safe to resume the use of the tree house without getting rained on.
The girls are tired of being home all the time, they are longing to go back to school. Since halfway through March they’ve been home because of the summer break and that kept on going due to COVID-19.
The staff has done their best to make sure that the girls kept on learning and the older girls had online studies but that only filled the mornings. The afternoons are often filled with reading, arts and crafts, or watching a movie. Of course they also cook together and clean the house. But that is not the same as seeing your classmates every day and having a normal routine. This is has also been a tough time for the mothers, because having to entertain and take care of the girls is much harder than just before and after school. We are thankful that this time has come to an end because the schools reopened on the 1st of July!
The girls have had summer vacation since halfway through march. But because of COVID-19, making trips and going out is not possible. So what do we do now? Well, we have wonderful staff who decided to organize a camp. Each house, with their own staff and kids, went camping on our own property with tents, games, stories, and a campfire. The girls and staff had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
“I knew at a young age that I wanted to be a nurse and over time that desire has only grown stronger. I just graduated from High School and have been looking for a school to continue my education. It hasn’t been easy because there are more students than spots in a lot of the schools. In our city they don’t even offer the education path that I was looking for. About 2 hours away they do offer it but all the open spots were filled very quickly. I didn’t give up and kept looking. Finally I found a school near Bangkok that had open spots and ended up accepting my application. I am so happy! But I also realize that this is going to be a big step for me. I will live 800km from home and won’t be able to drop by for a visit out of the blue. Thankfully I know some people in the area who I can go to if I ever need anything. My question for you is if you would consider helping me with the fees for my education because it is quite expensive. It will set me back about 6500 USD per year including room and board. Will you help me to realize my dream?”
To sleep well you need a mattress and preferably a good one. If the mattresses are old and worn out then getting a restful night’s sleep is difficult. We needed new mattresses for all the beds in Baan Phak Phing, about 38 in total, so everyone can sleep well and wake up feeling refreshed.
It all began with a donation from a church in New Zealand about halfway through 2019, which allowed us to buy 9 mattresses. We had the girls draw straws to determine who would get a new mattress first. At the beginning of 2020 we had 4 volunteers help us with building a carport and repainting the playground for which they’d raised support themselves. They brought more money than was needed for the projects and they decided to spend the rest on new mattresses. This allowed us to buy 9 more which were handed out by once again drawing straws. During this all the disappointment was clearly visible on some of the girls’ faces who didn’t get a new mattress. The team felt bad that they couldn’t give everyone a new mattress and decided to raise more funds once they got back home. A lot of their friends and family were keen to help out and their home church also eagerly joined in to see this project completed. And complete it they did, they raised enough money to buy everyone a new mattress. They even had enough money left over that we were able to buy everyone a new set of sheets and a new pillow. It was amazing to see how happy everyone is with their new mattress, sheets, and pillow and we can rest easy knowing they can all get a good night’s sleep. We are so thankful for the sponsors in the Netherlands and New Zealand.
At the end of February all the girls had end-of-year tests at their schools. For some of the girls this meant that they were wrapping up their education at their level and would continue on to the next level or start working. 5 girls graduated from their respective schools, 1 from university, 2 from high school, and 2 from middle school. We celebrated this as a family by throwing a party and honoring them for their achievements. We are very proud of them. After the summer break they will all take the next step in their lives. One of them will get a job, another one is going to go to university and the rest are going to continue on to high school or go through vocational training.
She came to live with us at the end of the school year and was denied admission to the school until the new school year. During this time of being at home she is learning all kinds of things, like cooking, doing her own laundry, cleaning the house, but also fun things like playing guitar. One of the “mothers” is teaching her the first basic chords which she finds harder than it seemed at first. But with a lot of practice she well get there and will soon be able to play a whole song.
In Thailand you can get your motorcycle license at 15 and a lot of the girls do that. They find it very exciting but also a lot fun because it gives them more freedom which until that moment they didn’t have. For the “mothers” this is also nice because now the girls can help with getting groceries when they need something or drive themselves to school, work, or appointments they might have.
That you have to put gas in the motorcycle is clear to everyone but that you also have to have insurance and get the motorcycle inspected is not so obvious to everyone. They would rather let someone else take care of that but we want to teach them how to do this in order to make them more independent. The first time this had to happen someone went with them and also a “sister” as is very common here. In hindsight they found that it wasn’t all that difficult and it really isn’t, but it does have to happen and preferably before the insurance expires.
The December holidays are already far behind us but we were able to create some beautiful memories. We hope the girls enjoyed it so much they’ll remember it for a long time.
The Christmas celebration with all the girls, staff and their families, neighbors and friends and the girls who used to live with us and their families was amazing. The whole thing was organized by the staff and girls, who had lots of fun even while preparing. They decorated the yard and the big meeting room with the necessary lights, bought presents and wrapped them, sent out invitations, bought food and prepared it, practiced performance pieces, etc.
The party began with dinner out in the yard with plenty of time for people to mingle, talk with each other, and just generally enjoy each other’s company. After dinner everyone was called inside the meeting room to sing Christmas songs together, do the performance pieces, hear the Christmas story and receive presents. It was really a wonderful time.
On the 31st of December we celebrated new years eve as a family, all the girls and staff. Eating Thai barbecue together and playing games throughout the celebration, all the while looking back on a wonderful year. Everyone shared things they were thankful for and what they were looking forward to in 2020. After dinner the girls love to do karaoke, dance, and sing. The crazier, the better.
Great to leave the old year with so much fun and to start the new year together.
On behalf of all the girls and staff, we wish you a happy new year 2020!
In the space of only a couple of weeks we had visits from 3 different families who have all supported Baan Phak Phing for years. They are from the United States, Canada, and Thailand. It’s great when people decide to become a sponsor but it’s even better when we get to meet and get to know the people behind the support. What all three families have in common is that when they visited they blessed the girls and “mothers” even more through financial contributions, providing a pizza dinner for everyone, bringing presents and teaching a seminar for the “mothers”, or giving us the opportunity to buy Christmas presents for all the girls. One of the families also organized a fun evening teaching origami, the Chinese paperfolding art. It was awesome to have this opportunity to spend time with the sponsors and we felt very honored with the time they took to visit and encourage us.