18.12.2017

Improving lives of school kids from Mae Chaem, Thailand

For us, child education in rural areas has always been a touching subject. Parents from poor neighborhoods can’t afford to enroll their kids into nice schools, if they have the ability to send them to school at all. Rural schools operate mostly on enthusiasm of the teachers who can only give as much as they can.

There is never enough money for books, school uniform, proper educational materials and more than that, kids often don’t have enough energy to study properly, having to help their parents at home and often enduring a long trip to school and back. Educational process suffers and kids are more likely to drop out, contributing to the cycle of poverty. 

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We decided to visit one of such places to see the situation for ourselves, offer help where it’s truly needed and more importantly, bring the light to the problem of child education. 

There’s a small rural village in the mountains of Mae Chaem area in Thailand, it’s inhabitants are hardworking people who spend most of the time bending their back in the fields. Being employed in low-income farming doesn’t provide enough money to support such luxuries as  educational materials and even warm clothes. 

Most of the locals can’t provide their kids with everything they need and beyond that, it is expected from young children to help their parents in farming. People who work in paddy fields rarely send their kids to school for long, having the need to keep them at home for the housework. 

Baan Sam Sop is the closest school to the village, located about one hour of walking distance away from home through a dangerous and difficult terrain, that cannot be crossed on a vehicle. Little kids have to go through real adventure to get to school every day. And even though they’re used to it and even seem optimistic, the dangers of the road are still a harsh reality. Till this day locals remember a terrible tragedy that happened a long time ago. When a few village kids died under the fallen rocks near a cliff on their usual way to school. 

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(The road to Baan Sam Sop school goes through beautiful, but often dangerous places)

As natives talk about the road, it’s not even the difficult terrain that is bothering them, or bad weather. They know that there is no other school so they won’t be able to change the rout. The biggest problem is that they can’t afford warm clothes for their kids. On average every boy and girl in this village have only one or two sets of clothing, which is not enough to comfortably sustain in cold conditions. The climate in the mountains can be treacherous: warm weather changes to cold very quickly.

When the sun rises, village kids get ready for the long and cold trip to school. Their path lies through mountains sown with slippery rocks, long and treacherous muddy roads and thin shaky bridges. 

The outstanding optimism and determination helps children overcome all the obstacles on their way to knowledge. From the young age they learn that everything, including knowledge, must be earned. But we believe that all hard work must also be rewarded.

After a conversation with the kids, Baan Sam Sop school teacher and some of the parents got an idea of what would be the best present for the children. Our team took measurements from every child and created a design of a new school uniform that will fit them best.

When creating the uniform we kept in mind a few things: first of all, it must be warm. The main concern of the parents was cold weather, so we had to use proper materials that would keep the warm. Second essential quality for it to be lightweight and loose, so it won’t restrict the movement. Kids travel long distances and often have to overcome obstacles on their path. And finally, the uniform must be durable enough to sustain a long walk through dense forests, and be easy to wash after muddy roads. 

We returned back to Mae Chaem, but this time with presents. Uniforms made specially for kids in Baan Sam Sop school, educational materials and food for school meals. The kids were happy, and so were we. This truly inspiring example of Mae Chaem children shows that no matter who you are, and where you are from, you can always create yourself an opportunity and achieve something greater, all you need is to be determined and believe in yourself.

The path to success is often sown by pointy rocks and lies through shaky bridges, but no matter what, we will always be by your side. 

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