Thursday, April 19, 2012

Many Hands Make Light Work

“Lakeland” is a 3.5 hectare organic farm. The small children live and learn on the farm, and are knowledgeable in the fields of organic farming, recycling, composting, and conservation. The farm allows the children to learn hands-on how to build a self sustainable community.

With the monsoon season approaching, it was important to landscape part of the gardens to provide support for when the rains come. Our time at the Children's Shelter included the "building of a nature dam" which involved some serious physical labor including:

  • gathering 100 bags of rocks from a nearby river
  • transporting the rocks back to the farm
  • using the rocks to landscape a sloping hill to support the earth for when the rainy season starts
  • creating the beds for the vegetables
  • transferring compost from one part of the farm to the new gardens
  • planting beans
  • chopping up banana trees to make new compost

All of the children on the farm contribute to the tasks.

Piling into the back of the truck to head to the river
Treating the kids to some treats at a little store on the way to the river
Collecting stones

Everybody worked really hard irrespective of size or age.

The children took a much needed break to play in the water.

In the video below, Wayu does a crazy backflip in front of a German volunteer which really scares her (understandably because it looks like he is going to land on his face). He sees that she got scared so he runs over to give her a reassuring hug.

Back at the farm, we laid the stones to reinforce the garden beds.

And the following day, we worked on the compost and planting the beans.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Children's Shelter Foundation

''For every child, there should be a warm and safe place in this world to spread their wings and fly.''  Children’s Shelter Foundation

Last year, we found a “bucket list” that Léah had written. On the list she had included, “do volunteer work in a poor country”.

Mélanie and I had travelled in Thailand years ago before the kids were born. Recently, we have had the desire to return to the country but also wanted to do more than just sightsee – we wanted to contribute to a local Thai community while gaining an in-depth cultural understanding not possible on the tourist trek. When we proposed the idea of a volunteer vacation to the kids, they were extremely enthusiastic about it.

After some extensive research, we came across the Children’s Shelter Foundation - a globally-funded children’s aid project in Northern Thailand founded in 2007 by Joy Hanfaifa (Thai) and Ulrike Meister (German).

The foundation’s farm “Lakeland” is located in the forest 30 minutes northeast of Chiang Mai and provides a home for orphans as well as poor, underprivileged, and deaf children.

Fence around the farm painted by the children
Sign indicating the road to the Children’s Shelter Foundation

Arriving at the farm with Dao

The children on the farm welcomed our kids into their “family” right away. The rope swing helped provide the icebreaker.

Barbie, Play-Doh, Jenga, Snakes and Ladders, and Trouble help to break down barriers and bring kids together.

Playing Trouble with Wayu
Snakes and Ladders
Playing Jenga with Levi
Levi discovering Play-Doh for the first time
Introducing Mélanie to their card games

Many of the foundation’s children come from the mountain villages in Northern Thailand and from neighboring Burma (a war-torn country plagued by genocide) . For some, it is the first time in their lives they have experienced love, stability, and security.

Léah with Bpee Mai
Bpee Mai
Levi giving the thumbs up while preparing dessert