Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Every year on the 2nd week in January there is a kids day celebration. I was fortunate to participate in this with a group of University students. The students are from Payap University located in Chiang Mai. This is the 3rd year in a row that they have travelled to Naklang village to celebrate kids day. We packed up a pick up truck with lots of toys, games, blankets and clothing that were donated to distribute to the kids. The trip to Naklang was 4 hours long up winding mountain roads. We spent 3 days in Naklang for the celebration. Naklang village is very poor and has received aid in the past from Japan to help fund a dormitory for the school and an Australian group that helped construct the dormitory. The majority of the school children live at the dormitory near the school despite that their families live in the same village. Several children are sent to Naklang for schooling from other outlying villages. The reason being that the parents of the children can't afford to feed their children an adequate diet. The school feeds and provides sleeping facilities for the kids. Albeit in very poor condition it is still more than they would get at home. The kids help with all the chores around the dormitory and also help with gardening a small plot of land that they use for their food.
For the kids day celebration we set up various stations with games and activities. We had a balloon toss which everyone loved. We had bowling, musical chairs, singing and dancing. The kids had an absolute ball and were very appreciative. The whole village came out to watch the festivities. The university students were great and very organized.
For me it was an amazing experience to be the only foreigner in the entire village and see how people in rural Thailand live. It was also exhausting to muddle through my weak grasp of speaking Thai for 72 hours without a break. YIKES!!!! My brain hurts.
We concluded the trip by visiting the Village Elder which was a must to show our respect. We sat and had tea with him and his family for about an hour. We discussed all the activities that we had done over the past three days.
I felt very humbled to be amongst a group of poor village people that had very little, but were very open, generous and friendly. It was a great experience overall!! Next time I would like to bring my kids to show them how village life is and how lucky we are to live where we do.
P.S. I accidently inserted a picture of the village twice and I can't figure out how to delete one of them. So, enjoy it twice as much