Late into our last visit to Thailand, I made another trip “up-country” to visit schools deep in the hills of Mae Hong Son. I’ve talked about previous trips (Budding Potentials, Building Better Futures, Schools at the end of the Road, and True Colours) in several previous posts, but I never tire of accompanying the indomitable Susan Race on her visits north to interview study-scholarship recipients and to inspect building projects.
I’m a little slow on posting about this particular trip for a number of reasons: early into day two my brand new camera decided to stop working (this sort of thing happens to me a lot!), so I was limited in the pictures I took; I’ve been on the road constantly since then, and so am distracted by other things; and most importantly, about two years ago, I promised Susan a website, which I still haven’t finished.
Fortunately, Susan is a very patient woman, which explains how, brick-by-brick and student-by-student, she has succeeded, over the last 20+ years, in improving school retention rates for children living in remote Hilltribe villages in several districts within the Mae Hong Son area of Chiang Mai. You can read more about that when I get the website finished! In my defence, I didn’t know the first thing about web-design or web-construction when I made that rash promise, and it has been a long, slow learning process.
There is a small teaser to the site on the sidebar at the right. At the moment, the link effectively goes to a “bookmark” and no further; the rest will happen in the next month or so… Watch this space!
When I have some free time, I do plan to write more about that particular trip and the various projects we visited and the students we met, but in the meantime I will share a few pictures from the first school we visited: Ban Huay Sa Paet School in Chom Thong district, Chiang Mai Province.
When we arrived at the school, the children were all sitting outdoors, on the wide bench around the bodhi tree, practicing their reading.
While gathering sponsorship money to build auxiliary buildings and support children’s educations, Susan has also been building relationships. Everybody in the area knows her – and knows her energy and staying-power. Neither she, nor the teachers she works with, like Kru Apichart, whose new school this is and who is pictured in Schools at the end of the Road, are ‘fly by nights’. All have demonstrated a longterm commitment to improving educational access for Hilltribe children in the remotest of Thai communities.
These faces certainly make me feel better on a gloomy day in London!
As does the knowledge that these children, at least, are getting the educational opportunities they deserve.