Emergency Appeal

As I write to you, the number of cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus is increasing each day, not just here in Thailand, but around the world, and it is heart breaking to see the numbers of those who have sadly lost their lives. Not long ago we were told it was the elderly who were more at risk, now young children are dying.

Thankfully none of our children or staff have been infected with the virus, but we know it may only be a matter of time before it happens.

The Children’s Village is on lockdown and none of the children are allowed out, at any time. Fortunately we are now in the middle of the summer holidays, but none of the children are visiting family, which we usually encourage, we can’t risk any of them coming back feeling unwell and infecting the other children; can you imagine 160 children and teenagers all sick at the same time?

Our schools closed early, we sent our blind and visually impaired children, as well as those with special needs and our older students with disabilities, we sent them all home, two weeks earlier than planned. Our Day Care Center is also closed.

The new school year starts in early May, but the government has announced that all schools, colleges and universities will remain closed until July, at the earliest. This means that the new intake of students will not enter the Technological College for People with Disabilities, the blind and visually impaired children will have to stay at home and the children with special needs will miss their friends.

As I write to you, the number of cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus is increasing each day, not just here in Thailand, but around the world, and it is heart breaking to see the numbers of those who have sadly lost their lives. Not long ago we were told it was the elderly who were more at risk, now young children are dying.

Thankfully none of our children or staff have been infected with the virus, but we know it may only be a matter of time before it happens.

The Children’s Village is on lockdown and none of the children are allowed out, at any time. Fortunately we are now in the middle of the summer holidays, but none of the children are visiting family, which we usually encourage, we can’t risk any of them coming back feeling unwell and infecting the other children; can you imagine 160 children and teenagers all sick at the same time?

Our schools closed early, we sent our blind and visually impaired children, as well as those with special needs and our older students with disabilities, we sent them all home, two weeks earlier than planned. Our Day Care Center is also closed.

The new school year starts in early May, but the government has announced that all schools, colleges and universities will remain closed until July, at the earliest. This means that the new intake of students will not enter the Technological College for People with Disabilities, the blind and visually impaired children will have to stay at home and the children with special needs will miss their friends.

Pattaya is like a ghost town and the whole country is on curfew from 10pm to 4am. Bars, restaurants, nightclubs and tourist attractions were ordered closed several weeks ago, everywhere is in darkness.

All roads in and out of the centre of city are closed, and checkpoints are screening anyone who wants to enter or leave. Without a good reason to enter the city the police are turning people away. The entertainment capital of South East Asia is closed.

Gates to public parks have been padlocked and beaches are empty. Hotels have been ordered to shut, and there has been a mass exodus from Pattaya and other cities, pictures from bus and train stations show hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of people all trying to leave the cities to return home.

In turn this has had an effect on us. Every day we welcome visitors to our Welcome Center, Thai and foreign, they come to make a donation, cash, but also food, toiletries and clothing.

The weekends, and Sunday in particular, are the busiest days of the week in our main office. There are times during the day when there is a line of cars waiting to get into the car park, bringing many different groups of people, family or friends, in our office. One recent Saturday the only visitor was a local Thai man who dropped off a broken old vacuum cleaner, the following day no one came, the car park remained empty.

Last year the strong Baht meant that funds arriving here from abroad were greatly reduced by the exchange rate. We thought we could hold on and manage until the Baht dropped, which it did, but then came the Covid-19 corona virus, already it has done a lot of damage. The day to day donations of cash have stopped, nothing is coming in, no one is arriving to make a donation.

Pattaya is like a ghost town and the whole country is on curfew from 10pm to 4am. Bars, restaurants, nightclubs and tourist attractions were ordered closed several weeks ago, everywhere is in darkness.

All roads in and out of the centre of city are closed, and checkpoints are screening anyone who wants to enter or leave. Without a good reason to enter the city the police are turning people away. The entertainment capital of South East Asia is closed.

Gates to public parks have been padlocked and beaches are empty. Hotels have been ordered to shut, and there has been a mass exodus from Pattaya and other cities, pictures from bus and train stations show hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of people all trying to leave the cities to return home.

In turn this has had an effect on us. Every day we welcome visitors to our Welcome Center, Thai and foreign, they come to make a donation, cash, but also food, toiletries and clothing.

The weekends, and Sunday in particular, are the busiest days of the week in our main office. There are times during the day when there is a line of cars waiting to get into the car park, bringing many different groups of people, family or friends, in our office. One recent Saturday the only visitor was a local Thai man who dropped off a broken old vacuum cleaner, the following day no one came, the car park remained empty.

Last year the strong Baht meant that funds arriving here from abroad were greatly reduced by the exchange rate. We thought we could hold on and manage until the Baht dropped, which it did, but then came the Covid-19 corona virus, already it has done a lot of damage. The day to day donations of cash have stopped, nothing is coming in, no one is arriving to make a donation.

Can you help?

The cash we collect from the hundreds of donation boxes around the city and province goes to buy food for the children and to pay the salaries. The Pattaya St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the annual Lucky Draw was cancelled this year, that’s another huge amount of cash we have lost.

  • 50 Baht will buy breakfast, lunch and dinner for a child at the Village.
  • 1,715 Baht will buy one large 49 kg sack of rice.
  • 6,000 Baht will pay for a special meal at the Village for 160 children and 35 staff.

We receive a lot of food donations, but we still have to buy most of what our children eat, and they eat a lot. The recent SOS Rice Appeal was down 46% on the previous year and we fear that there will be food shortages or the prices will increase.

The house mothers and fathers at the Children’s Village also need their wages; even though they are on lockdown with the children. We can’t lay them off; we can’t send them home and shut the Village. Where would the children go? Most of them have nowhere else to go.

  • 300 Baht is the daily salary of a housemother at the Village.
  • 10,000 Baht is the average monthly salary of a housemother at the Village.

We also have to pay the gas, electricity, water and petrol bills each month; some people think that as a charity we get these services for free, we don’t, not even a discount!

Can you help by making a cash donation? You can do a bank transfer on our website, or sponsor a meal at the Children’s Village? Every single Baht, Dollar, Euro, Yen, Krone or Pound you donate will go to our children. One dollar will buy two meals for the children, lunch and dinner, whatever you can afford will be greatly appreciated.

I do apologize for having to send this request, but I had no choice, my kids, our children, need your help. A few Dollars, Euros or Pounds, several Krone or Yen and a few hundred baht would be much appreciated. Thank you.

Noodle Soup

A few days ago I was up at the Village, and I could smell the noodle soup so I decided to stay for lunch.

All the children were eating together, but now they were social distancing. Instead of one house on one table, they were all spread out, sitting far apart from each other.

With my bowl of noodles in hand I looked for somewhere to sit, and then I noticed one little boy had a table to himself so I joined him.

I asked his house mother why he was sitting alone, she rolled her eyes and smiled, things are quieter if he sits alone, he’s a loveable kid, cheeky, a bit naughty, but he’s only eight years of age!

I sat opposite, and we ate our noodles. Him laughing at me as I still can’t use chopsticks, and both of us seeing who could make the loudest noise while slurping the noodles. Me, a middle aged white man from the UK, and an eight year old Thai kid, having lunch together.   

This kid arrived at the Village with nothing, except the clothes on his back. He has nothing, except for what we give him. The clothes he wears, we gave them to him. Three meals a day, with snacks in between, we give them to him. A safe place to live, we give that to him. But as I sat watching this little boy, slurping away, arguing with his mate two tables away, I thought to myself, what if we can no longer give him what he needs? That shouldn’t even be a question; we have to give him what he needs.  

I sat opposite, and we ate our noodles. Him laughing at me as I still can’t use chopsticks, and both of us seeing who could make the loudest noise while slurping the noodles. Me, a middle aged white man from the UK, and an eight year old Thai kid, having lunch together.   

This kid arrived at the Village with nothing, except the clothes on his back. He has nothing, except for what we give him. The clothes he wears, we gave them to him. Three meals a day, with snacks in between, we give them to him. A safe place to live, we give that to him. But as I sat watching this little boy, slurping away, arguing with his mate two tables away, I thought to myself, what if we can no longer give him what he needs? That shouldn’t even be a question; we have to give him what he needs.  

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