What the workshop is all about…2012 Training is finished but read on to see what the We Can Club did last Year…
By the end of the training workshop, everyone felt comfortable and excited about the new We Can English Clubs that each school and orphanage will start in June when the new school year starts in Thailand.
By Wednesday afternoon, we were able to get both groups together so they could really experience how the We Can English Clubs really work … with all parts now fitting together. This was very exciting for everyone – the teacher/facilitators AND the youth, now working together! Everyone saw how all the parts work together and how the new Clubs would operate with everyone taking on special assignments – allowing the youth to experience their leadership skills (directing all parts of the Club’s needs such as welcoming, activity director, song director, opening and leading the meeting, setting up the area for the activities to be done – such as having tables and chairs set up in a specific area for some activities to having open spaces for games or mixer activities, etc. The teacher/facilitators shared with the students the English portion of the curriculum about such subjects as those found in the Finance section of the curriculum – where youth learned to determine the difference be “wants and needs” – how to make wise choices.
Tuesday was not quite as bad. In the afternoon, they started to see how all of the parts we talked about were coming together. During the afternoon we had a REAL monsoon-type rain that lasted about 30 minutes.
All of us ate lunch at the school. Today, Ken and I saw some of our girls in another eating area and went in to say hello. They asked if we could come and eat with them … so we did! What a NEAT group of kids!!!
At 9:30 a.m. we were in full swing, digging into the 250+ page curriculum. There were many concepts that Gary shared with the teacher/facilitators that Araan translated for them. The information was very good, but it was quite difficult for the people to completely grasp. So often, only 2 or perhaps 3 of them completely understood some of the instructions we heard and some of these would educate the others about some of these concepts. Even with appropriate breaks, they almost had “TMI” … too much information. Their brains were more than saturated.
Monday, we were picked up at the hotel at 7:30 a.m. and were taken out to the Khon Kaen Government Education Welfare School for breakfast before we went into our morning session at 9 a.m. First there was a lengthy greeting by the assistant superintendent of the school, then Ken gave comments. After about 15 minutes of formality, all of us went to our separate classes/sessions.
Present were 14 girls from the welfare school in their school uniforms, 3 teachers from Khon Kaen, two from Chiang Mai’s Boys Home, two from Viengping Girls Home, our three scholars – Araan, Kaew and Ing, Samai, Gary Logan – our Development Director/teacher for the week, as well as his son Kyle who will be working with the Khon Kaen youth who will be joining the adult training Wednesday afternoon, Bekah Douglass – our U.S. worker in Thailand along with her parents Pat and Chuck, Ken and I. It was an impressive gathering.
Sunday morning we were dodging rain drops and were at the bus terminal close to 7:30 a.m. We, Ken, Samai and I, where met with two women from Chiang Mai’s Boys Home and two women from the Viengping Childrens Home. We are on a day trip – we hope it is 11 hours long, to Khon Kaen. The bus is air conditioned and fairly comfortable. This daytime trip allowed us to all enjoy the countryside, but rain for the first couple of hours did not allow me to take any pictures from the bus window … I will just have to keep special pictures somewhere in my mind.
All of us dozed some of the time. Most of us had an extra jacket or shirt to put on when the bus’ a/c was too cold. It is really puzzling for me to determine why they keep the temperature on all of the buses in Thailand at such a cold and/or freezing temperature! Anyway, it seems to be a common way of doing things here.
The bus made quite a few stops the closer to Khon Kaen we got. In doing so, it actually took 13 hours (not the 11 hour night time trip) to get to Khon Kaen. Of course, it did not help that an engine fuse went out and it took the driver and driver’s helper 25 minutes to “fix” (actually jerry-rig) to make the engine work correctly. ALL of us were really very happy to get off the bus and get our rides to the hotel for Ken and I and the four teacher and Samai out to the Welf
are School. We were soooo happy to get into a/c and a small but decent quarters for the week.
This is Kaew’s Story
Doungdao Dangsala (Kaew) was born near Bangkok, Thailand. Her mother gave birth to her only 16-months after giving birth to her sister, Ging, but her parents could not afford to care for both children. When Kaew was only two years old, she was sent to live with her grandparents in northeast Thailand – seven hours away from her parents and sister. Kaew stayed with her grandparents for four years. When she was six years old, she left her grandparents’ home and returned to live with her parents.
When Kaew was eight years old, her father was in a horrible motorcycle accident. Kaew’s father was treated at a hospital for his accident wounds but returned home with tuberculosis. Kaew and her sister were left to take care of their father, while their mother worked double shifts to try to keep the family financially afloat.
Kaew’s dad only lived for around three months before he passed away. Kaew’s mother, who was still in her twenties with two young children, could not afford to raise her daughters on her own, so she was forced to send her girls to live with her parents. Kaew’s grandparents did their best to take care of her and her sister, but they often could not afford to provide basic necessities, including three meals a day, for the girls.
The sisters were desperate to improve their lives. Kaew’s sister, Ging, learned of a boarding school that offered a free education, food, books and uniforms. The girls felt it might provide a better situation and enrolled in the school.
After a few years at the boarding school, the sisters met Bekah Douglass, an instructor for Sustainable Hope International. Bekah was a Peace Corps Volunteer at the time. Kaew joined Bekah’s We Can Club, because she was interested in learning English.
Although life was improving for Kaew, she still struggled to buy basic necessities like soap and toothpaste, and she was very worried about overcoming the obstacles of poverty. One day on the way to the city market, Kaew said to her English instructor, Bekah, “I am scared because I have no future.” Bekah immediately responded, “I will find a way to help!”
Bekah kept her word and did find a way to help Kaew. Bekah encouraged Kaew to apply for a Sustainable Hope International University Scholarship. Sustainable Hope International approved Kaew’s application. Kaew was ecstatic when she learned that she would be able to attend university.
With the help of Sustainable Hope International, Kaew is now in her second year at a Rajamangala University of Technology Phra Nakhom in Bangkok. She is studying hotel management, culinary arts and restaurant management and is excelling in school.
Kaew is also excelling in her personal life. She recently published East Meets West: Doungdao’s Thai Cookbook. Kaew wrote the cookbook to help pay for her university education and to help other children like her to achieve their goals! You can purchase your copy of Kaew’s book through our website.
This is Araan’s Story
Araan Kuataan is 19 years old and was born in Nongkai, a rural province in northeast Thailand that borders Laos. His parents were educated and were the bread winners for the family. They had just opened a shop in the city and traveled every week to the country to see their son who stayed with his grandparents. When Araan was 2 years old his parents were on their way to see him and were in a deadly crash that left him an orphan. His grandparents took him in and raised him. When he was 9 years old his grandfather died which left his elderly grandmother to take care of him. Like most country Thai, the grandmother worked her body to death and she could not work enough to pay for his education.
Araan first lived in at a Welfare School in Nongkai but transferred to Khon Kaen Education Welfare School in the 8th grade. Every summer he would go home to help his grandmother by working at a local store in his village. His grandmother is now 69 years old and is taking care of other grandchildren and is not able to help Araan financially with her government income of $50.00 every three months.
Araan has had a difficult life that most of us can not even imagine. He moved to a boarding school that would be closed down for health reasons in America. There are no rooms for the students and the dormitory is one big room with bunk beds back to back. The bunk beds have a 1 inch mattress filled with straw for the kids. Every dorm room has at least 50 students and some don’t have enough beds, so the children sleep on the floor. The school constantly has insufficient water problems, thus making them bathe in rain water. The school provides a free education, but discipline can be brutal because they use bamboo sticks to hit and discipline the children. The food is clean but most of us would turn our heads if we were asked to eat it. These children never chose this life but they do the best they can with what they are given. They study in 100 degree rooms with no fans so they can have a middle and high school education.
Araan is in now in his first semester of one of the major universities in Thailand that started in June of this year. He has excelled in his chosen major as an English language major. Already he has been moved to a more advance program at another university because of his outstanding English proficiency.
He has provided leadership in the “We Can Club” as well as translating Thai to English for several training documents used by Sustainable Hope International. His advanced training and desire to excel has already made a valuable contribution to our program and the disadvantage youth of Thailand.
This is Bekah’s Story
Bekah is making a difference in the lives of children who are homeless, afraid, hungry and even on their own in rural Thailand
Carolyn Rebekah Douglass (Bekah) is 31 years old and currently working in Thailand. After graduating from Western Florida University, she came to Thailand over 3 years ago as a Peace Corps Volunteer and was chosen to work in the Teacher Collaboration and Community Development (TCCO) Program.
Bekah was paired with two Thai counterparts with whom she worked to improve lesson planning and student centered learning methods.
As a Peace Corps volunteer she was stationed in Khon Kaen and worked primarily with a boarding school called Khon Kaen Education Welfare School (KKEWS). KKEWS houses and educates roughly 600 children, from various regions of Thailand, from elementary through high school.
A few months into the Peace Corps service, Bekah recognized the need for a youth development club with the goal to maintain sustainability in the lives of the youth. She talked to the teachers of the school in an effort to get Thai counterparts involved in the project. Mrs. Laongdao Pungsuk decided to become involved with the project and together they went to the Peace Corps Youth Leadership conference and through that experience she started the “We Can” youth club.
The club was established to build self-esteem in at- risk youth by teaching youth leadership skills. The club allows the students to become leaders by helping others. There are over 25 students currently in the club and current as well as past members have traveled to 9 different provinces and taught at 11 camps.
Students studying at KKEWS and members of the “We Can Club” must meet the following criteria:
Students are missing one or both parents due to death or divorce (in cases of divorce in Thailand, parents are not required to support their children and the parent who does not retain custody of the children is not required to contribute monetarily to their support.)
Parents are unable to control their children. Children with poor school records, a history of behavioral problems or learning disabilities are admitted to ensure their continued involvement in the educational system of Thailand.
Students who receive support in the scholarship program are required to give two weeks of “community service” in Thailand for every year they are supported by the program.
Bekah is now finished with the Peace Corps and is teaching at the Khaonkaenwittayayon School in Khon Kaen. She also continues working with the “We Can” project as well as helping Sustainable Hope International with future youth development projects.
When asked to explain what motivates Bekah in her work with disadvantaged youth of Thailand, she replied “When you help one person you can change the world.”
Currently Bekah, her family and friends are financially supporting eligible students with scholarships so they can continue their education at local Universities in Thailand.
Sustainable Hope International is a relatively new nonprofit organization. Their resources are limited. Working together we can share in the support of this program and our other ongoing programs like the one at the Viengpieng Orphanage in Chiang Mai Thailand.
Sustainable Hope International staff are dedicated to the process of providing support and sustainable hope to programs like Bekah’s and support to the future of disadvantage and orphaned children in Thailand.
Join us in supporting Bekah and our programs at Sustainable Hope International.
Sustainable Hope International
2815 Hickory Ridge
Independence, Missouri 64057-1193
A general introduction to the work of Sustainable Hope International. The children featured in this video are able to continue their education and work towards a brighter future thanks to the contributions of those who support Sustainable Hope International.