Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Mae Hong Son (Day 2) - Huay Gung School

Gawd it's taking me some time to get to the end of this trip isn't it......Your going to be fed up reading about it by the time I'm finished!!. In my defence, during the last week, we have gone through all our stuff, had it packed up ready to be shipped, had the splats chipped (Lugs was determined not to get into the cat basket and had all four feet employed in the task of avoiding it) and we've been waiting with bated breath to see what on earth was going to happen with Thailand's political situation....ok, I'll stop making excuses and get on with it.

As I've already reported (here) leaving the village of Mae Jong was nowhere near as nerve racking as our arrival. The road, or the muddy track as it's otherwise known, had dried up overnight so we were not sliding all over the place much to the relief of all concerned (although the plummets on either side did still cause a few heart stopping moments!!). We had planned to visit Om Ai School which the BWG recently gave money to for the refurbishment of their bathrooms (If you look closely at the picture you can see the village) but we were told that the road was impassible and the only way to get there would have been by elephant......we didn't have the time.....or the elephants!!

The next school we visited, Huay Gung, was one of the most heart breaking places I have ever been and I left there with my blood boiling and a determination to help change things there!! My first impression of the school was that it was not too different from the others we had visited but once we started asking questions and walked past the main building we were shocked by what we found.

To put this into some kind of context - there are 190 kids attending this school aged between 4 and 16 and over 30 kids live h
ere full time.

To be honest I don't really know where to start!! (The photo's don't show just how awful it was there). There was rotten, mouldy food all over the place...there is no canteen, all food is cooked on this one stove, and not enough teachers to look after all the kids, never mind keep the place clean, so they are kind of running riot. The water tanks which are supposed to provide them with a water supply for the year are leaking, the classrooms were in a terrible state and the accommodation for both the kids and the teachers was just horrific!! I don't know if you can see from the pictures but there are no beds, no proper mats or mattresses, mold was growing up the walls, mouldy boxes were piled up in a corner along with broken desks and the teachers, that don't sleep in with the kids, sleep in the cooking area cause there is nowhere else for them to go!!!

To add insult to injury some idiot in the education department (I have no idea which government was in charge at the time) pledged that ever
y school in Thailand would have a computer and computer room. The people that run the schools were told that the money would have to come out of their budgets (no extra funds were made available) and that they had to comply. So, as a result, this school has a computer room and something that would pass as a computer....they can't use it........because they have no fucking electricity!!!! That money could have paid for another teacher, or beds, or a new water tower but nooooo someone wanted to be able to tell the rest of the world that every school in Thailand has it's own computer!!!!

On a happier note - The school now has a new headmistress in place and it was her that approached us for help and showed us round. She has some excellent plans for tackling the problems there but she needs financial help to achieve them so, upon our return to Bangkok, I made a special request to the BWG Committee that we pledge to support this school for an initial period of three years to help it get to an acceptable standard. It was agreed and I have offered to co-ordinate the project from the UK.


JJ Beattie said...

Your photos were wonderful. I'm so glad I saw them. I shall continue to support the cause from the committee end.

I have to tell you that your word verification is 'catin.' DO NOT tell Lugs please.

Carol said...

JJ - Thanks hon. I'm really pleased that I will still be involved even though I will not physically be here!!

LOL at the word veri...it's very appropriate!!

C x

French Fancy said...

See Carol, you have made things happen and if it helps alter one little life in the future - that you probably will never know about - isn't that wonderful. You know, the kids that get a free decent education in other countries could never believe that there are kids like the ones you saw being taught in the conditions you found.

How does one make things equal for children. It's impossible and very sad. You must be taking a lot of heartbreaking images away with you but, oh, what an experience you've had.


Lane said...

That's awful Carol and I could feel your anger in your words. Thank goodness for people like you and fund-raising organizations to raise awareness and funds.

On another note Carol I saw the clacky hands in action the other night on the news (airport protestors). They are brilliant!

Tam said...

I started off thinking your pics were gorgeous and ended up quite depressed. It's easy to think computers are the answer to everything and quite humbling to be reminded of their limitations.

DJ Kirkby said...

I could hardly bear to look at the photos. How ridiculous about the computer *sigh* That is great that you will still be able to help from the UK.

Carol said...

French Fancy - I know that with some investment and time we will be able to change things there...a little money goes a long way here so hopefully changes will take place relatively quickly.

Lane - You have teachers choosing to stay in really awful conditions to ensure these kids get an education and then you get some government minister who is supposed to be in charge of education making a decision like that....it makes me hopping mad!!!

The hand clappy things are fantastic aren't they....the next time we go to a play or concert I'm taking mine with me so I can clap without fear of tired hands (you think they will notice?)

Tam - Oh hon...I'm sorry I depressed you!! I tried to end the post on a high note by pointing out that they are going to get help so their situation will definately improve!!

As for the computers well - I think computers are fantastic and it's commendable to aim to have one in every school but it's a pointless PR exercise when there is no electricity to power them!!

DJ - I am thrilled that I am still going to be involved!! Chris and I have talked about it and we are going to ensure that our holiday back here will coincide with a trip to that area so that we will be able to go along and see the difference :-)

Oh, did you look at the picture of the butcher on the post 'Mae Hong Son (Day 2) - The Village of Mae Jong? (hehehehe)

C x

Blu said...

How marvelous that you can help, and help make a change. It must have been hard to keep your cool!

Debs said...

For some reason when you have a new post, it changes the pic on my side bar thingy but doesnt move to the top and I keep missing it.

Good for you for going to help them, and co-ordinate from the UK. I can well believe the computer tale, ridiculous and so unfair.

Geri said...

Wow! How exciting to be Thailand. I've traveled throughout Europe and America, but have never made it to Asia. I can only imagine. How luck you are!

Carol said...

Blu - It was very hard but there was not much point in showing that I was annoyed. The Thai's have a thing here called 'cool heart' and you lose a lot of respect (They refer to it as losing face) if you become angry.

Debs - Hmmm...that's weird isn't it...I wonder why it's doing that!!

I am really pleased that my involvement is not going to end when I leave here!!

Geri - We're both very lucky to be living here...it's been an amazing experience :-)

C x

JJ Beattie said...

Carol, your letter is H.

Carol said...

JJ - Thanks hon

C x

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