On one of our most recent Children’s Project donation trips to Mae Hong Son province in the Northern Thailand, we visited three schools up in the mountains. All these schools are located close to Mae Sariang district, on the way to the more remote Pa Pae sub-district. It had been raining for the past few days prior to our trip. Hence, we knew we were going to venture not only curvy, but very muddy roads.
Our mission on this, as on many other project trips, was to deliver donations to the less privileged Thai children. We have a close connection to Mae Hong Son province through our mahouts, the elephant care takers. In fact, all of our mahouts are from this mountainous province and part of the Karen hill tribe. The Karen have a long history of working with elephants through generations. We want to help the children living in these remote areas and we feel the best way to do that is by supporting their education.
Mae Aum Pok School
Reaching this school requires first going up the mountains, followed by a steep descend to Mae Aum Pok village in a beautiful valley. This was our first visit to this school and we were instantly impressed by the location. Driving further down after the school entrance, we passed a waterfall and a small river flowing through, dividing the school grounds. The areas were connected by little wooden bridges, and several tiny classroom buildings were scattered on both sides.
The kids quickly saw us coming and started running from different classrooms to greet us. We met teacher Mew, who told us that they have 50 students attending Mae Aum Pok School. She and the students were very grateful for our donations and said that the school receives visitors quite rarely due to its remote location. Our donation to this school consisted of various kinds of useful stationery, donated by the generous people visiting Elephant Hills.
Mae Aum Long Noi School
We first drove the winding, narrow dirt road leading to Mae Aum Long Noi School about a year ago. Now, during our second visit, we were able to bring donations also for more specific needs. Speaking with the headmaster prior to our visit, we learnt that the school urgently needs containers to keep rain water for showering and general use. In addition, some of the classroom floors needed new floor mats, so we brought several rolls with us.
The headmaster had also emphasized the importance of warm clothes for the winter. He said that in this school of 38 students, many come from poor families and are constantly in need of clothes. Luckily, we had a lot of good quality second hand clothes in hand, brought to our resort in Khao Sok by our kind guests.
Within our Children’s Project we accept children’s clothes in all sizes, for all seasons. We make sure to deliver the clothes and other essential equipment to the children in need.
With the help from the teachers, we handed out some of the clothes, toys and stationery for the children. Some of the kids wanted to try out their new shirts or other clothes immediately, and others were playing with their toys or browsing the colorful children’s books. Everyone got something to take home that day, and even the rain couldn’t wipe off those beautiful, proud smiles on the children’s faces.
Baan Mae Sariang School
Descending the mountains of Pa Pae, heading back to Mae Sariang Town, we had one more stop along the way. We hadn’t visited Baan Mae Sariang School before, but had driven past it a couple of times on our way to Pa Pae sub-district. Despite it being our very first visit, we received a very warm welcome. The headmaster Baworn introduced his school and students to us and was pleased to get visitors.
Mr. Baworn mentioned, that many children stay overnight at the school because their homes are located very far away. Of the 37 students, 17 need to stay at the school dormitory throughout the school terms. To help them with food supply, the resourceful kids and teachers have a small frog farm, fish farm and a vegetable garden. This gardening project teaches the children to grow their own vegetables and they also learn about basic animal husbandry. Both skills are very useful also at home.
The children were pleased to receive pens, notebooks, rulers, erasers, pencil sharpeners and even backpacks. What made them even happier was to hear that all these amazing items were brought from all over the world from our guests!
If you, your friends or family are planning for a trip to Thailand and Elephant Hills, please take a look at our “Pack with a purpose” list. This list consists of items currently needed at the several schools we support through our Children’s Project, both in Khao Sok area and Northern Thailand. All donations, big and small, brand new or second hand are welcome!