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.
Taking the family and venturing out into nature and living from the land is a great experience. We often hear about it when the conversations turn to scouting or when we know people who like to spend their vacation out in nature. But in the Netherlands it is not very common to live out in nature and we only really ever see what nature or the jungle has to offer in a tv show like Expedition Robinson or something like it. Here in Thailand we are basically living in the jungle so it is very easy for us to experience if we want and have enough know how. The “mothers” of one of the houses decided to take the girls out into the jungle for a day where they also cooked food on a fire and using produce straight from the jungle. It was a wonderful day in which they got to enjoy nature, food and each other.
At the end of September, we had a team from New Zealand visiting us. During that week quite a few girls were already home from school either because their school had already closed for holidays or because they were in their final testing weeks and didn’t have to go to school every day. So, what do you do with a team of 16 people consisting of mostly 18/19-year-old youngsters? Neither the girls nor the staff know what to do with foreigners and especially not with foreigners who don’t speak a word of Thai. So, when these people begin to speak it is all English and then the girls and staff have to reply, which is quite scary. All the girls learn a bit of English at school and some of them are quite good, but it takes courage to actually start using it. It was great to see that some of the girls put in the effort to communicate with foreigners in a language not their own, although it was accompanied by a lot of giggling.
This team was here for a week working every day to help paint the living room, homework room, and the bedrooms at one of the houses. They worked really hard and they managed to finish the entire project. To wrap up the team’s time with us there was an evening of music, drama, and games which everyone really enjoyed.
At the end of August, we went out with all our colleagues. We didn’t have to go very far, but it was nice to be away from work and be in a place that had air conditioners. We invited a long-time friend to organize the day and he did a very good job. We learned a lot that day through music, singing, stories, skits, and games. How can you be a good team? How do you respect each other, think positively, enjoy and do your work responsibly? Something very important in this is that you know exactly what your tasks are and what is expected of you. It is also important to know what the goal is that you and your team are trying to attain, that you understand what the business or organization’s mission is. Your attitude in the team and in your relationships with your colleagues is of importance. These are just a few things that came up throughout that day.
We also got to enjoy a very delicious lunch during which we were able to talk about things other than work which was really good. After lunch, we got iced coffee from a colleague who now lives in Denmark. All in all, we are thankful for our team and the fact that we had a successful team building day.
We hope to be able to take what we learned and apply it to our job, in this way improving the care we give the girls.
Sometimes you have underlying problems that aren’t that obvious at first glance. If there were problems, then you soon forget those because the day has already started, but you’re still stuck with the question of why you are feeling so tired or why you are hurting all over. And when suddenly the penny drops, you can finally take action. It turns out that all the mattresses at Baan Phak Phing were due for replacement, both for the girls and the “mothers”. Around that same time, we received word from New Zealand that someone wanted to make a donation which ended up paying for 9 new mattresses. 9 girls can now sleep a whole lot better and are getting up in the morning feeling refreshed and ready to start the day. We now have about 1/5th of the mattresses replaced with another 4/5ths to go. The mothers are also happy because well-rested girls mean a positive outlook on life which then influences the atmosphere and the girls’ performance in school.
The teenage girls who went to a camp last April had a kind of reunion recently. They got a chance to meet up with all their camp friends and leaders. This was due to a debriefing meeting following the camp. What did they think of the camp? How are they doing now? Would they like to go to a camp like this again next year? There was also time to play games together and to catch up and just have fun.
Most of the time the girls only go to visit family during the March-May holiday but this time some of the visits happened later. For one of the girls the visit was arranged after a close family member passed away and for the other girl it was moved due to planning issues. Often it is very emotional to see each other after a long time away. In some cases it is also very difficult to once again be in the place where the terrible things that were done to her occurred. A “mother” is always with the girls when they visit family to provide support and protection and creates a relationship with the girls’ family and the house she now lives in.
At the end of April we loaded up the trucks with everyone’s luggage to take a trip with the girls and staff. Altogether we had 38 people. We were going to Chiang Mai, about a 3-and-a-half-hour drive away. Sadly they are very busy working on the road making the trip longer than normal but the result should be worth the currently long trip. The first day we went to the zoo. It is a huge zoo that is constantly being developed. This time the aquarium and the panda enclosure were open, which 2 years ago wasn’t the case due to a power outage.
It was really hot at about 40 degrees Celsius causing us to seek shelter from the heat in a big mall in the area. The girls really enjoyed looking through the shops and buying food.
The next day we went to the royal gardens which was really beautiful. Next up was an amusement park with a toboggan run. For some of the girls this was a bit scary but once they got going they really enjoyed themselves and it was a small victory for them. That afternoon we went to a waterfall to cool off. It was a really beautiful area and the waterfall had multiple layers in which you could play. It was quite busy there as everyone was off from school and work and it was pretty hot. But the amount of people couldn’t deter us from having fun.
The last day we went to church and sang a song in front of the whole church, after which we stopped by the mall again before starting our journey home. Everyone had loads of fun and was therefore a successful trip. We want to thank the sponsors for making this trip possible!