New Mattresses project completed!

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.

Graduation!

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.

Learning to play guitar!

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.

Inspection and Insurance?

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 Holidays!

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!

Visiting sponsors!

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.

Back to nature!

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.

Do you have the courage?

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.

Teambuilding!

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.

Sleep Well!

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.