Dear Donors and Supporters of the “Character and Leadership Training for Thai Youths” Project,
I would like to sincerely thank you for your previous donations through GlobalGiving for our Project. Indeed you are one of the elite few who see the value of the phrase “Better to teach a child how to fish than to give him a fish”, because the consistent training of a child, builds character and self-leadership.
I would like to give you a special update of what has been happening in Thailand since our last report.
As you may already have known, Thailand is facing its worst floods in 50 Years. This year the floods came early in March and devastated several southern provinces. By July, floods started to affect the northern provinces and as the dams started to fill and water had to be released, the provinces below, started to be severely affected.
As a result, 63 of the 76 provinces experience flooding, with Ayuthaya, Nayok Sawan and Loburi being the worst hit. 6 industrial estates have been been submerged, some are about 3 metres underwater, with more than 14,000 factories destroyed.
The central plains of Thailand, also known as the Rice Basin, has lost 10 million rais of farmland. Where once rice fields used to be, is now a vast, enormous lake, some as deep as 5 metres!
3 million families or nearly 10 million people are left homeless, with 381 deaths to date.
It is difficult to estimate the exact cost in numbers, as the situation is truly 'fluid' and water barriers leak or are broken even as I write this email, and people have to flee their lives in the middle of the night.
This has resulted in cut-off of food supplies coming to Bangkok and the flooded areas. Because of the shortage, prices are increasing, eg vegetables and sandbags have increased up to 300%! And there has been numerous thefts of flooded homes, thus victims are double victimized.
Our Organisation had planned to run 3 Annual Leadership Camps in mid October, but due to the menacing advance of the enormous run-off from the north, we had to cancel the event 5 days prior to the camps as parents were beginning to be worried. As the waters travel into the capital city of Bangkok, the Thai government had to announce that the school term has to be delayed for about 3 weeks, as travel becomes almost impossible in flooded areas, and is becoming more and more widespread.
It is at these times of difficulties that the fruits of our efforts to train those under our care, manifests itself. As the saying goes, it is in a crisis that it shows what we are made of. As families face floods head-on or prepare for the onslaught, we are beginning to see the fruits of our labor. We hear of how our young leaders willingly help with the relief work that is near their homes and sacrificing their comfort zones for the sake of others in their community, by packing and transporting sandbags (a strenuous job) so as to strengthen neighbourhood dikes, and eagerly volunteer to help prepare and deliver meals for evacuees.
Due to the floods there has been much obstacles in reaching our children and youths, but once the situation improves, we will definitely seek them out to ensure that they are safe and will try to provide for their immediate needs, so that they can be given the care that they need.
Your help in advocating for our work would mean that the children and youths get the help that they need. Please consider telling your friends and family about our project - share the link on your blogs or social networks, use the tell-a-friend feature on the project page to email your network, or just bring us up in conversation.
Thank you again for taking the time to read this email.
You may view the gravity of this year’s disaster on the link below:
PS: We will try to update on the Global Giving website, as long as our office can operate. According to the Thai government, most grounds in the capital city of Bangkok are expected to flood, especially in these 2 days.
During the Summer Holidays, a group of about 50 young, energetic and enthusiatic leaders gathered at the Nong Bon Water Sports Centre for a planning retreat 29-30 April, 2011). They came from Bangkok and the upcountry like Chonburi, Khon Kaen and even Chiangrai.
Their task was to plan for 2 Nationals Camps :one for the girls and another for the boys, at the campsites in the southern province of Prachuab Khirikhan. These young lives have had various opportunities and trainings as young leaders in the past, and thus were quick to gel as a group, so as to plan for activities that were fun, build teamwork, and instill good moral values.
After a whole day of planning, learning the techniques of a good camp coounsellor and even producing an invitation video, these leaders were treated to a movie at night.
The next day, they were up early, to prepare for a full day of water sport activities, being trained by the coaches in the Water Sport Centre. They had tries in sailing the dinghy, kayaking and wind surfing. It was a physically tiring day for all, but rewarding and funfilled.
Mana said, " At last I can sail and control my boat!", while Mike sun-tanned and exhausted, smiled proudly at his efforts to steer his wind surf back to shore.
As the young leaders bade each other farewell, they were also looking forward to meeting soon, as each went back to his / her hometown, with a piece of duty assigned to them, for the coming National Camp in July.
The Project Train the Trainers (Volunteers) on “Money and Wealth in the New Millennium”
The Foundation started a pilot project on savings called the “S.M.A.R.T. (short for Stewardship of Money And Responsibility toward Treasures) Scheme” aimed at instilling the habits of savings and wise spending for children and youths, about two and a half years ago. It was so successful that the adult volunteers called for an in-depth adult version of the “S.M.A.R.T. Scheme” for themselves. Thus the Foundation decided to do a seminar on the theme “Money and Wealth in the New Millennium” was organized from 21 – 23 March at the Petch Rim Tarn Resort, Phetburi. The 40 participating volunteers came from Bangkok and other provinces like Chonburi, Khon Kaen, Roi Et, Samut Songkhram, Samut Sakhon, etc
The topics discussed included emphasis on savings and the various creative means involved, living the sufficient life devoid of debts, and principles involved in buying insurance, etc. In a nutshell, the S.M.A.R.T. Scheme teaches one to GIVE, to SAVE and to SPEND wisely.
May, a volunteer who has been working with children and youths for more than 10 years said, " I will make it a point to save some money every month, even though my husband and I have to pay off a lot of debts, as I now see how important it is to save for a rainy day"
Pit said," Through this training, I have learned that I can afford to be sharing more in the "Give to Others" part of the SMART Scheme".
Participants left the seminar, determined to make changes in their lives, as they realize that being wise with their finances is actually a very "freeing" experience!
Throughout the 17 years of working with youths and indirectly with their families, it has been obvious that the poverty cycle is a vicious cycle, where debts of the parents are passed on to their children, either through extreme poverty or financial ignorance and lack of self-discipline. The Foundation for Life's philosophy to "Teach a Child How to Fish" rather than just to give them a fish everyday, is the reason why the Organization persists on training our young generation with skills, a mindset of integrity and tenacity, together with self-discipline, so that they may be able to overcome the difficult times in their lives and to eventually be of assistance to others in their families and communities. For the past 12 years, many small scale projects was conducted so as to help instill financial education for both children and adults. An evolving curriculum on Financial Intelligence was written and re-adjusted over the years, so as to fit the local Thai needs. As a result, the S.M.A.R.T. (Stewardship of Money and Responsibility towards Treasures) Scheme was launched in 2009, as a pilot project for the children and youths. The S.M.A.R.T. Scheme was introduced in various camps that was conducted and about 900 children and youths went through this program.The young people were encouraged to begin a life of savings for the future and for what they wanted instead of just asking from parents or borrowing to buy what they want. In order for them to understand the principles taught, role-play was employed as a means to educate them and it was well received as a number of them began to use what was taught in their daily lives. The S.M.A.R.T. Scheme also taught them to give to others and this has borne good results as can be seen by Nok, our adult volunteer who said, " Of late, a number of kids who is using the S.M.A.R.T. Scheme, has come to me and donated on a regular basis, so that the funds can be used to help run activities for children and youths! This is amazing as it has never happened like this before in my 20 years as a youth worker!" The Foundation is grateful to all donors and supporters for their generous giving, that has empowered Thai kids with tools to overcome various obstacles in their lives. Any feedback, response and advice that will enhance our outreach to youths, is most welcome!
This year’s leadership training for youths was on the Theme of “Together We Can” from 12-15 October. The campers were sub-divided into 3 groups to cater specifically to the Girls of primary school-age, Girls of secondary school-age and the Boys, so that they would receive training appropriate to their genders and age group. Topics aimed at adding value in a wholistic fashion, e.g. in their physical, emotional, intellectual and social aspects were employed. About 300 campers from the local communities in Bangkok and upcountry provinces like Khon Kaen, Chonburi, Chiangrai, Chiangmai, Rayong,etc. gathered to better themselves in skills like teamwork using activities like ‘Shining Together’ to learn about social responsibilities, leading small groups, management and planning principles, handicrafts, adventure events like forest trekking, tenting and outdoor cooking, and last but not least, they were taught in how to keep up their good performance by learning the habit of “Sharpening their Saws”.
Meow, a teenager from Wiang Papao district in Chiangrai (northern Thailand) said,"I have never ever enjoyed any activity more than the "Shining Together" game that we played tonight. I learnt the invaluable lesson that we all need to work as a team and look out for each other"
Kong another camper from Chonburi recalled the time when all the boys in the camp helped the public water works vehicle that got really stuck in the mud after refilling the campgrounds water tanks, saying, "I am really impressed that when all of us guys put our hearts, minds and strength together, we can get that huge truck out of the mud. I believe that really, Together We CAN!"
Indeed, this year's camp was a Character Building event - as it was a year when it rained everyday at camp, YET, all outdoor activities that was planned for was carried out during times of intermitten sunshine. All campers were thankful as they gained tenacity in their attitudes and learnt to remain of good cheer despite facing obstacles in their way. On top of it all, when the camp was over and all campers went their various ways back to the provinces from which they came, it rained so hard around the campsite, that there was a metre-high flood on the main Highway, due to the run-off from the surrounding hills. Had we delayed a day, we would have been stranded with no way out of the campsite. It was certainly a camp to remember for years to come!
The Foundation is ever mindful of the challenges facing all of us and we are grateful for your support towards our work to instill the character of integrity and tenacity into the youths of tomorrow, so that they may carry on the good works that you have ignited in their lives.
Thank you from our hearts and may you and your families have a Blessed and Fruitful New Year in 2011!
Any suggestions or feedback regarding our project is most welcome.
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