There is a little orphan school between two hotels – one not so well groomed; our neighbors. Their sewage system is bordering the main class house. Every Friday, we cook a lunch meal for the kids there and bring it to 35+ school children. Most of them are between the ages of 6 and 12. The first impression is that of arriving at a camp. Ironically, one has to pass through the Hotel residence to reach the school area, nestled (or squeezed) into a corner of the Island. The sounds of happy screaming children dressed in their uniforms are welcoming at first, but in a close-up, I was slightly depressed to see that all of them wear clothes that need more care.
Two incredibly dedicated teachers follow their self-adopted duty and help in the six classrooms to manage the wild horde of foremost children that cannot afford or are not welcome in other schools. Yes, this is kind of their “last resort” – a school where you would find your “difficult to manage” offspring, placed away from the modernized competitions where there seemingly is no room for slackers and ADD-afflicted students, even in rural Thailand. Their chances of returning to mainstream schools are limited and unfairly restricted. The two teachers have never commented negatively on me and, bound within the Thai tradition, would never complain, although the facts are visible, which is my reason for concern and outcry. Instead, the two married teachers explain their love for all of them, especially the abandoned few they took on full-time. After the Tsunami, the parents had vanished or left the Island and had never been heard of.
A strangled feeling clouds my instant admiration for this woman and man, and I know we can help. I talked with a representative for the Thai government; he explained that this is by far not the worst he has seen, and there is hope for this little place. The infrastructure is quite lovely, and the dedication of these two teachers guarantees a long commitment if only we have a few more resources attached, involved, and actively assisting. Our hotel, Zeavola, a five-star boutique destination, is right next door!
There is a dire need for a bathroom facility (they have none) and a simple kitchen/shower area since most of the kids stay on the school property during the monsoon season and/or during the week. It is often too far for them to go home to relatives or too dangerous on the choppy sea. Keep in mind that there are no streets on Phi Phi. A solar panel produces limited electricity for night lighting, but it needs a severe overhaul. I have already bought new uniforms, schoolbooks, and writing utensils, but my Thai salary is limited, too. The Girl Scouts from Montana came here two months ago and helped build a library.
Unfortunately, they had to depart without finishing the project. Now, we need school benches, tables, a chalkboard, and the materials that make a kid’s library so wonderful…Foremost, three kids urgently need reading glasses.
I will try to write about my self-adopted mission to support this school, and I need all your help.
I will create a website and hope you all get involved. Remember, if everyone only sends twenty bucks and makes all his friends aware via e-mail, one would think there is no trouble in 2006 to help a school with only 35 children. At least try. I need your input on this one! Please!!
Thank You in advance for the support.
We are good souls, Raphael
Update June 24th: I have received over $3500 from friends and strangers worldwide to purchase school materials and utensils for the kids. Totally blown away! THANK YOU!!