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Update from Thailand

From AG Sharon Starr, who is in Thailand with our own Shirley Pryor-Pyne, working on our Akha Children WCS project:

On Friday, we flew from Bangkok to the Children of the Golden Triangle Center, now re-named Children’s Rescue Mission.

Waiting with us for the plane were 80 Asians in red vests that said FIDO DIDO.  I was very curious and tried to ask one of them what FIDO DIDO was.  She didn’t speak English but noticed the Rotary wheel on my vest.  She started calling out to the others in her language and pretty soon we had the whole group surrounding us and chattering like crazy.  A few spoke a little English, and we quickly learned they were Taiwanian Rotarians who have a water project going somewhere near Chiang Rai.  They took lots of photos of us and them  together, and seemed excited to learn we were on a Rotary trip too.  Some are going to the Convention in Montreal in June, and we said we’d try to meet again there.   The red FIDO vests, it turned out, were freebies from their District Governor’s sister’s software company and they were wearing them so it would be easy to spot each other in a crowd.  And of course it was great advertising for FIDO DIDO!

As soon as we arrived at the Center, David gave us the grand tour.  The chicken house (financed by our Club) is finished and filled with 320 red hens.  The hens only arrived a couple days ahead of us and haven’t started laying yet.  The tractor we bought is being used for all kinds of projects.  It has several attachments–blade, grass cutter, plow and disk.  I hopped on it and tried my hand at pushing some dead brush into a pile with the blade.  This was not really work, however–just a photo op for a new website David is planning.

chickens

The Aussies who are here right now are putting the finishing touches on a very nice playground, just beyond the pre-school classrooms (for those of you who have been here before).  The kids love it!  Swings, slides, monkey bars, climbing structure, the works!

playground

playground

The new project (there always IS one, isn’t there?) consists of 14 primary school classrooms to be built on land near the new playground.  The land was purchased by the Singapore RC, and now all David has to do is raise $14K for each classroom.  He’s hoping I’ll go back and raise at least enough for one classroom.  Hmmmm.  Any ideas?  He is very anxious to get this done because an Akha girl (age 12) and a Lisue girl were raped by a teacher at the local elementary school, and David is very anxious to pull all his kids out of that school.  The teacher has a history of this at other schools and was shuffled off to this school by another jurisdiction.  The school is protecting the teacher and claims it was the girls’ fault.  Charges were filed, but the police released him immediately and he is back teaching at the same school.  Luckily, nothing like this has happened at the HS, and all is going well there.

Saturday we had a bit of a scare.  Two little boys lit a fire in some dry grass, and it got away from them very quicky and started spreading rapidly toward the chicken house.  The older boys were out there stomping the flames  with their feet and beating it back with bushes and blankets.  We were carrying buckets of water from the kitchen and got it contained fairly quickly, maybe in 15 or 20 minutes.  I was afraid a kid would be hurt and/or those 320 new chickens would go up in smoke before they laid a single egg!  Luckily there was no breeze or we would have been in big trouble.  David got sprinklers set up, and we watered the whole area down for several hours to be sure there were no hot spots left in the grass.

Yesterday we and the Aussies took 26 kids elephant riding and then out to lunch.  The kids were thrilled with this special treat.

This morning I did some gardening.  The beds we worked and planted in April 2008 are still in fair shape, but certainly in need of TLC.  This afternoon Shirley and I inventoried a tangled pile of metal table, bench and bed frames.  Our job was to sort out 20 repairable table frames and 80 benche frames.  Next we have to sand,  prime and paint to  get them ready for new plywood tops.    It was hot, heavy work and I’m taking a rest.  Shirley is at the clinic now doing health checks.  Lynne has been painting lovely tropical flowers on the dormitory walls, with the encouragement of lots of admiring little girls.

So, as usual, just a typical first few days at our favorite Five Star Refugee Camp!

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