In February 2009, I was very fortunate to have had the chance to volunteer at Baan Unrak’s Children project in Sangklaburi, Thailand. The project is actually two simultaneous projects running hand in hand by Didi Ananda Devamala and Didi Ananda Anuraga. The first one is a children’s home or an orphanage for abandoned children of the area and the neighboring areas. There is also room for single mothers who escape the tyranny of their husbands’ marriage or whatever hard environment they had to leave to find shelter for themselves and their little children at Baan Unrak’s. The home provides shelter for nearly 150 children of different ages. They are well fed and looked after by a group of capable dedicated volunteers from different parts of the world in addition to Didi of course who leads the morning and evening daily meditation followed by a short evaluation of the children’s performances at different assigned tasks. It was really astonishing how independent the children were. And how they all managed to go to school and also be responsible for some extracurricular activities for example yoga. There is a weekly yoga show performance that is attended by a lot of people who happen to be visiting Sangklaburi for holiday or other reasons. Along with that there is a weaving project for single mothers and some talented teenage girls and you can find the high quality weaving products for sale at a couple of outlets in the area and that brings back some income for the workers and the project.
Then comes the other part of the project which is the school, run by Didi Ananda Anuraga. The school provides primary education for free for the children of the area, the majority of who of course stay at the home as well. The school is very organized and well run, and the teachers are either Thai, Burmese or foreign volunteers. During my stay there was a girl from Portugal and another from the States volunteering to teach English, along with me. I also taught bead making for the children and together we made beautiful necklaces and bracelets. I was surprised by their speed of capturing the information and instructions and also by their creativity. Didi also takes care of a disabled little child whom I was fortunate to teach some English and Math. Her will was miraculous to me; I was amazed by the potential and capabilities of this small disabled child.
The area of Sangklaburi is on the Thai-Burmese border; that’s why it has a lot of refugees, including children. The area needs a lot of attention and I had the chance to meet up with people working for 2 other projects namely Children of the Forest and Whispering Seeds. The second is not as well established as the first, but they are both working their best in the area along with Baan Unrak (the oldest project in Sangklaburi).
What I learned from my stay there was priceless. I saw how by a lot of determination and effort you can run such a huge project solely on donations and volunteering efforts. But most importantly I saw how one person’s little effort can make a huge difference in the world. I now know for sure that the world has a place for everyone, that there still exists people who are willing to go the extra mile and fight for the good and welfare of others.
I matter. You do too. If you happen to be reading this and you can donate your money or your effort or both, don’t hesitate to contact Didi at: