March 2009

The Funding Proposal
After much work the funding process is now underway!  We are looking to build our education center, complete with a learning hall, kitchen, and public washrooms, in between our office site and volunteer staff house.  We are looking to acquire funding by the middle of April so hopefully we will see some financial progress before then.   We have also updated our list of ‘items needed’ and have begun to petition civic organizations in Bangkok for used office supplies and school items. 

By Thomas Elder

February 2009

More Volunteers Needed
With the approach of summer (from the end of March to the end of May) we are anticipating more participation from the Thai community with our education program.  While our staff currently can handle the Burmese students we will be in need of more volunteers (both foreign and Thai) to help with the general operations of the Ngaow worksite as well as teach the children as well as organize activities. 

teaching burmese teaching volunteer needed

Weather Update
The ‘Thai cool season’ has just about ended and the weather is beginning to get hot.  We were in the middle of a drought as a result of the lack of rain and the Ngaow office ran out of water for about a two week period.  Our water pump for our well system also broke which made housing at our site difficult at best.  We have, however, managed to fix all of the water-flow issues so hopefully that be avoided in the future.  The rains have begun to arrive once again, helping with the children’s ever-growing agricultural project.  Depending on the yield of their crops we will allow them to grow more vegetables in a larger space. 

water system

Census of Migrant Families:
We have begun to send staff out into the village and local countryside to determine where many of the migrant families are currently living as well as learn what services they lack.  Healthcare access is difficult for many as most are unable to afford insurance; proper education resources are another major concern.  We have discussed our current vocational center plans with several of the communities and they are enthusiastic about the potential for their children to be able to continue their studies.  Many are unable to attend regular public school as they do not have their proper immigration papers so this is welcome news.

By Thomas Elder

January 2009

Agriculture and Farming:
The students have begun to create plots of land to grow cabbage and beans.  They were taught by our staff how to tend the soil for proper irrigation as well as how to protect the seedlings from animals, heavy rain and the scorching sun.  Palm leaves and banana fronds from our garden were used in this manner: we demonstrated how using natural and locally found products can be just as useful as store-bought items.  When the produce is ready the students will be taught how to extract the seeds for future farming needs as well as proper soil rotation, as to not make their fields less fertile.

By Thomas Elder

farmingagriculture farming planting

Community Clean-up:

One major Thai stereotype that does have some authenticity is that Burmese migrant communities are very dirty.  Trash, food waste, and left-over construction supplies can be readily found surrounding many housing complexes where the Burmese are allowed to live.  As a result many rodents and stray dogs will reside in these areas making it a potentially dangerous area.  We have organized the children to help clean the area surrounding our office building so they can learn the benefits of a clean playing space.  In the near future the students will be used to clean their own communities in the hopes that they can organize their own families to do the same. 

By Thomas Elder

Currently we are developing a learning curriculum for both the single mothers and Burmese children living throughout Ngaow village and the surrounding area.  Some topics will teach basic life skills (such as basic grooming and housekeeping) to academic topics ranging from elementary math and Thai and English language skills.  As the children and women develop their knowledge we will potentially teach basic book-keeping and marketing skills to allow them to set up small businesses within their communities. 

By Thomas Elder

whiteboard for kids single mother cleaning lesson teaching children

The building to house the volunteer staff has finally been completed.  Originally the staff had to live in the office in a partitioned-off section but the new building is a dramatic improvement.  It still has a few finishing touches (the floors still need to be varnished and one of the bathrooms needs to have its pipes tightened) but it is a dramatic improvement.  The construction, which took about three months, is fortunately at a close: but there is still one more project to be completed.

Our next goal is to searching for funding for a vocational learning center, located between the main office and the volunteer house.  This new building will provide a proper learning environment, the necessary space for several dozen people, as well as leaving the office as a space separate from rambunctious children.  We will be having an architect some to give an estimate for the cost to build our proposed center; details will be announced in the coming weeks.

By Thomas Elder

building volunteer house

Over the past few weeks the learning center has had a regular crowd of twenty Burmese children.  Some come to learn, others to play, but every child that stays here for any length of time has seen considerable improvement.  When we originally met the children many were lethargic and were prone to naughty behavior for attention from our staff.  Today, while there is still the occasional childhood rough-housing, the children are well behaved and have improved attitudes.  They are enthusiastic about coming to the center every day and are looking forward to the upcoming learning curriculum. 

As a result of the children’s interest in our project we hosted a series of events for them on Thailand’s “Children’s Day”, a holiday set aside on the second Saturday of the year to celebrate exactly that: children.  The local village had their own activities planned but that did not stop us from having our own fun – almost every child that had been her previously arrived on January 10 games, activities, and candy.  They enjoyed some local games (“human fishing”, where a piece of candy is tied to a string and is dangled just over their heads to bite into) as well as Western games (“Musical Chairs” was such a hit that it was played almost a dozen more times throughout the day).  By the end of the day many of the children did not want to leave but eventually were consoled knowing that they could come back to the house the following Monday.

By Thomas Elder

children day child festival kids at baan ngao kids happy

December 2008

Welcoming our new staff, Thomas Elder. He has been brought to the project as the Volunteer Project Coordinator.  He will be developing the educational program here as well as assist in fundraising for our vocational classroom.  His other responsibilities include teaching the children and making a census of the Burmese people living in the area.  This information will allow us to properly determine what skills will be needed during instruction, as well as facilitate in the fundraising process.

By Thomas Elder


October 2008

Water issue at the building in Baan Ngaow has been resolved with water supply from the well. The building is equipped with basic cooking utensils such as a hot plate, rice cooker, microwave and water boiler, Internet has been installed also.

Surrounding land has been cleared and the construction for the activity hall and on-site accommodation for staffs/volunteers has been started. Children from nearby area start to visit us at the building. Besides playing, they help us with some simple cleaning tasks such as collecting litter and the falling coconuts. The children aged between 8-16, most of them dropped out from school because the parents cannot afford their lunch cost. Some of these kids speak Thai, but most of them can’t, so we start talking to them in Thai and encourage the peers who attended school to speak in Thai during their game.   

By Tham Guat

cut glass building volunteer house play with children children

Septerber 2008

The building in Baan Ngaow now has lighting and fans. Surrounding land has been cleared
to ready a place where on-site accommodation for staff and volunteers can be built. Providing a reliable
source of water remains a challenge. To date, rain must be collected in large jars (see photo).
A relationship with a nearby school that also helps Burmese children has been established in hopes of
cooperating in ways that can make for a better learning environment. The other school has one teacher
for over 50 students in a classroom. Other than this disadvantageous teacher/student ratio, CNF is
learning that subject matter must be geared toward hands-on, practical skills. If only basics such as math,
history and languages are taught, children tend to drop out, knowing that their illegal status will never
permit their receiving certification attesting to course work. CNF plans to cooperate by providing traditional
cultural subjects such as arts, music and handicrafts and also agriculture instruction and food culture supplementing
core curriculum with afternoon and weekend activities.

water jar electric fix baan ngaow class room  
  By Linda Quinet