What do Park Seo Jun and a group of girls have in common? That is a good question that needs a proper answer. As a celebrity Park Seo Jun has a huge fan club who, in Park Seo Jun’s name, sends gifts to fans and people in need all over the world. Also to Baan Phak Phing.
First of all the girls received awesome shoes, real Skechers, in honor of Park Seo Jun’s birthday last year. Then we received new refrigerators to replace the old, worn out and energy eating ones. And on top of that, we were able to fill these fridges with a couple of different delicious products because of Park Seo Jun’s debut day on August 12th.
When we told the girls we received another gift from Park Seo Jun they were very excited. They wondered what it would be this time around. We showed them the Bibigo products of Korean food and they were all eager to try them out. For one of the three family homes at Baan Phak Phing breakfast the next day was a big party with the Bibigo dumplings. They liked them a lot.
The ice cream was eaten right away, because it was a day off and the weather was hot. Very refreshing!
For a few years now the board of Baan Phak Phing in the Netherlands has collaborated with the University of Applied Sciences Stenden in the Netherlands, which has a satellite campus in Thailand. Students are assigned a project with an authentic organization of which Baan Phak Phing was one. During the pandemic the project was done online but hopefully the next session will be on location in Thailand. During the last session students designed a T-shirt and sold them on campus and via their friends and relatives. The profits were for the home. The board of Baan Phak Phing decided to give each girl and staff member one as well.
“A new T-shirt for everyone?” “Yes, for everyone, the girls as well as the mothers.” As the local representative of the Baan Phak Phing board I was privileged to distribute the T-shirts. I wore mine to a staff meeting and many of the mothers immediately noticed that I was wearing a new shirt with the Baan Phak Phing logo on it. But they didn’t say anything till after the meeting. They loved it! Luckily because I had one for each colleague in my bag! Most of the staff put it on right away and wear them at work daily.
That afternoon when the girls came home from school, a few asked if I was wearing a new T-shirt. I asked them if they could read what was printed on the shirt and if they liked it. Just as the mothers all the girls liked it. When I asked if they wanted one, they all replied, “Yes, please!”
We would like to thank the board for this beautiful gift. Because of it we will regularly think of them.
Every Wednesday, all Baan Phak Phing team members have a meeting together. Besides discussing the current affairs and the cases of the girls, we take the time to share how we are doing, both workwise and personally. We support each other, if necessary, encourage each other to go on, and enjoy the good things together.
One Wednesday this past June, we received visitors; VIPs in my opinion, namely Christine, Heidi and Helmut. You probably know Christine, because she founded Baan Phak Phing and managed it until a few years ago. BUT Christine did not start Baan Phak Phing on her own. She did this together with Heidi, who also lived in Thailand at that time. Heidi is a lady from Germany and had the same vision as Christine: “To liberate girls who have ended up in forced prostitution and to give them a chance to a new future.” Christine and Heidi collaborated until February 1994, when Heid returned to Germany. She met her husband Helmut there and they raised a family together there.
Now, after all these years, Heidi and her husband came to visit us. It was so great to hear her side of the story, to see Christine and Heidi together, and to receive them at Baan Phak Phing. For many of our staff members, this was the first time they were told the history of Baan Phak Phing at first hand. We are very grateful that Christine and Heidi took the time to encourage us as a team and to encourage us in taking care of the girls.
Earlier this year, we wrote how the girls had the opportunity to pick strawberries in a mountain village. Recently, another season with different fruits had ended, and the fruits could be picked. Thailand, especially the northern part, has an enormous wealth of fruits and vegetables. Often, they grow in the garden or alongside the road. We have lychee trees in our garden, for instance. These trees have grown pretty high though, through the years, and the girls had to climb the trees almost daily lately, to pick the lychees. Also, friends invited the girls to harvest their mangos. The girls reacted very enthusiastically because they were in for something fun. Some girls went for the mangos, but others went to have a nice outing. The mangos were huge, so our crates were filled quickly. After picking them, we had a great time enjoying these wonderful tropical fruits.
This is the third year that we haven’t been able to go on holiday with the girls due to Corona. But we wouldn’t let Corona dictate what we can or can’t do. This year, again, the staff had arranged for a great camping experience on our own property. This time, they put up a number of tents on the yard. The program was also very campsite themed. The girls prepared food on a campfire, played camping games, sung camping songs, and even bathed outside.
They also celebrated that four girls graduated from school. This always is a very important moment, as the girls not only are being honored, but they also get the chance to share things. For one of the girls, for instance, the past year has been very hard, but she still succeeded with the great help of her teachers, and her mother and sisters from our house. That definitely made us shed some tears, of course.
Everybody enjoyed the camp enormously. We were all tired, but satisfied, including all staff members. Next year, we hope to have a very special holiday, because we would like to take them to the sea. Many of them have never seen the sea. After staying home for the whole holiday three years in a row, it would be great if we could realize that.
Ten weeks of school vacation might sound great, but it is not if you don’t have anything to do. So, I’m grateful to be able to tell you that the girls won’t have to be bored. They can go the gymnasium of the jiu jitsu club two mornings in the week to play sports and games.
The jiu jitsu coach and the girls who practice jiu jitsu three times a week, will lead the games and sports activities. It is a great way for these girls to learn how to bear responsibility and how to teach instead of being taught themselves. In a fun way they get a lot of exercise and learn the principles of jiu jitsu, a self-defense sport. There are even a couple of mothers who participate with the girls. It is precious to see how intensely the girls enjoy these occasions. The girls who tend to withdraw or be somber, totally blossom up. For the staff, it is also a moment to be out of the house with the girls for a while. After these mornings, the girls interact in a much better way and get along much better as well in the afternoon, because they feel tired and satisfied. 😉
After all girls and ‘mothers’ had to be quarantined because some of us had Corona, we were all very glad these days were over. We could go out again, but we still tried to avoid being in big groups of people. But what could we do as an outing with the girls? The great thing was that we had received an offer from a family we know. This family grows strawberries during cold season and because cold season was coming to an end, they wanted to give our girls and the ‘mothers’ the opportunity to pick strawberries. It was a 2-hour-drive, but it was beautiful. And then the happy faces of the girls picking strawberries; it was really worth it!
The mothers had prepared a picknick for lunch. We wanted to go to a beautiful spot to have lunch and continue to a great viewpoint. But in order to get to this picknick spot, we had to drive up a mountain, off-road. That proved to be a challenge for both the cars and drivers. Some loved it and some were scared. Part of the group arrived up the mountain and we ate lunch. After that, we made the beautiful hike to the top. From the top we were looking into Laos; we were standing right at the border. It was a great day for all!
Click here to see more pictures of this great outing.
In the past, we used to celebrate New Year on December 31st, but this year we celebrated on January 1st. This made it possible for the entire staff to be present, and not just those who were working at that moment.
We started with a moment of reflecting on the past year, especially on the positive things that had happened. Everybody was asked to think of something they were grateful for. After that, we spread out mats on the concrete floor and put down the pots we needed for the Thai barbecue. Next, we put in the coal; each group had to make sure their own coal was burning and heating up sufficiently to put on the pans. A Thai barbecue pan is a pan with a metal cone with a little ditch around it. The ditch is used to cook the soup and the cone is used to fry the meat or fish. During dinner, dances and songs were performed, and games were played. As a dessert, we had donuts. These donuts were donated by a former staff member who lives in Denmark; a very sweet gesture.
We were a bit afraid that celebrating New Year on the 1st of January might take away the ‘magic’ of New Year, but that turned out not to be the case at all. We had a great and fun evening which we have been able to celebrate as one big family.
Out of the blue we received an email via our website. It was PSJ United – the international fan club of Park Seo Jun. Who is Park Seo Jun? Well we were about to find out, because we used the internet to tell us. He is a famous South Korean actor. He is known for his starring roles in television series. Still we did not have a clue, but when you mention his name in Thailand and especially to the younger generation they will know. In fact the girls started to yell and scream when they heard his name, because they are all a fan of Park Seo Jun.
This all being said, the fan club reached out to us, because on December 16 it is Park Seo Jun’s birthday and they wanted us to have a chance to celebrate that with all the girls. They wanted to give a pair of shoes (Skechers) to all the girls and have us celebrate this with a birthday party. The process of getting all the girls’ shoe sizes started and they ordered shoes. When the shoes arrived we prepared a party with decorations, cake and pizza. We even had a big banner with the actor Park Seo Jun wearing Skecher shoes. The party was awesome, the girls are very happy with their new, fancy Skecher shoes and they of course enjoyed talking about the famous actor.
This was such a tremendous gift. The fan club is awesome! They helped with everything, from ordering the shoes and decorations, designing the banner, helping sort out the pizza order and they covered all the costs. I have to say it was overwhelming to me as person in the middle. The fact that they found our website and really wanted to support our girls in giving them an awesome day and gift and going out of their way to make it all happen. We are all very thankful. Words are not enough to express our gratitude. They really brought huge smiles to all the girls’ faces.
In November, two ladies with their children paid us a visit. Both women lived at Baan Phak Phing when they were younger. One of them has a 3-year-old daughter, but she is going through a difficult period with her husband and asked the mothers of Baan Phak Phing for help. The fact that she has reached out to her ‘parental’ home is very encouraging to us. It means she feels safe with us, and understood. During the few days this woman stayed with us, the psychologist of our team was able to have many counseling sessions with her. We will definitely stay in touch with her, and she can always call us and ask for help.
The other woman came to us with her two children, a 1-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter. Although she has lived with us shortly, her experience has been good, and she knows she is always welcome at Baan Phak Phing. She and her family are doing very well; she came to Chiang Rai because they are moving back to the city and they are looking for a new place to live. Our staff helped her find a new house, while her husband was working with his new boss.
It is such a great gift that we can stay involved with girls who have left us a while ago already. The Baan Phak Phing family keeps growing! 😉