On Monday we had the amazing opportunity to go by car with Collin & Casey (Harrison daughter, 13) our translator up to ratcheburi and than an hour out to this incredible Karen village! Collin and Casey only stayed for an hour making sure we were all settled in, Casey translated why we were there as only one person knew a little English (I do mean a little), and off went Collin and Casey!
Hah so we were on our own in this village called huay pak, to help and serve along side with only God in common! The main reason of us going to this village is because this passionate woman named Ma too started this preschool for her people! She saw how the children under school age were not being taken care of as their parents were at work so she sold some of her own land and bought land and built a preschool centre for the children!
Connect3e has now come along side of Ma too to help with funds but this was all Ma too's dream and vision to educate and provide for her people. We arrived when preschool was in session so got introduced to all the children right away! So as a preschool teacher in Canada I feel like my job isn't always the easiest and can be stressful well I seriously have no idea! They have only 4 ladies on staff and 40 children ages 3-5!!!!! All the ladies working have incredible patient loving hearts!!!
The centre has a main room, storage room for supplies, kitchen ( where they prepare a healthy lunch and snack for the children everyday!) and bathroom! They also have space outside to run and play, and a little playground structure. So we got to be apart of the last couple hours of preschool and than at 3:00 all the children go home. When Collin came he distributed some connect3e funds that We had fundraised so we went with Ma too and Too lee to the nearest town and got 30 boxes of tile, 30 bags of cement all in the back of Ma too's older truck, wasn't sure we were going to make it home but we did! We didn't have to load the truck up but had to unload and it wasn't light!
That night we played with some children that lived around the preschool. We played soccer and badminton! For supper that night Ma too and Too lee took us to I'm pretty sure the only restaurant in town which was amazing food and as we were together tried to use broken english/Thai/sign language to get to know them! After supper we were off to bed, our sleeping arrangements were the preschool floor! We borrowed some mats that the kids use for nap time and put up our mosquito net and we were good to go!
The next morning we were awaken by children knocking on the door at 7:00, the preschool did not start until 8:30 but some children have to come early as their parents are off to work! So we quickly got organized and ready for the day! We quickly realized how hard the ladies job is everyday trying to entertain and contain 40 children everyday! We did all we could think of to help out; we did an art time, sang some songs like " the hookie pookie" " if your happy and you know it" " head and shoulders" they loved the action songs! We also did an English " lesson" of ABC's, numbers, colors, and some animals.
All the children are so precious, always wanting to hug you and have your full attention. Their big brown eyes staring at you and watching all you do, it was so easy to love them! Around 10:30 we had lunch which we thought was a bit early but than we assumed these children have been up since 5-6:00 so they were hungry! The women were all so incredible to us, so as you can imagine 40 children eating and it's crazy but they make special food for us ( like when do they have the time or energy?!) and make us eat outside in this private nice area away from the kids for our lunch like wow we were so undeserving of the love they poured out to us!
After lunch it was nap time, as the floor is concrete they bring out these little mats for the children to have their nap on. We all worked together and got each child asleep which I think is such a blessing for those ladies to get a break from the crazy day! The children also need those naps because they play hard! The children started to wake up around 1:30-2:00,we had bought some exercise books in Hua Hin some in Thai and English so we handed those out as they woke up and worked with them. It was great to help them to hold the pencil properly and see the growth, they were proud of their work which is beautiful!
Right before 3:00 they all got a snack, sang a last few songs and the day was done! It was an unique inspiring day to go through a day as preschool teacher here compared to Canada! After we had cleaned up for the day we got the rest of the day/ night off to we decided to roam the village. The surroundings of this village is breath taking, we could not believe it! Seeing the houses they live in and how they do the basic things, made us appreciate all the things we have but also it sadden our hearts how selfish we are in all our material possessions. That night we were on our own for supper and oh man do I appreciate my kitchen! It was an interesting experience cooking with food your not sure of with limited kitchen appliances but we figured it out!
Jay also got to experience his first bucket shower, as there is no showers in the village and he got lots of experience with the squattie potties! So lots of firsts for Jay! Because we got all of the building supplies Ma too wanted to jump right into building so on Wednesday the school was shut down and we did a concrete finish on the walls of the preschool. The current finish is exposed brick, and croncrete floors. There goal is to finish the outside in smooth concrete and tile the entire fLoor.
A crew of Karen men were the builders, we kind of helped out with hauling the sand to mix with concrete bags in a big basin with water. But to us it was a clear example of how connect3e is working and how missions should be run! These Karen men were skilled in their trade so why would We take work away from them! First we would be taking a whole job away from them, taking away money needed to provide for their families, and finally this is their village; by building this they are providing a safe place for their children to come for preschool! That was an amazing experience and so happy God enabled us to see that! During the day we met a man who knew English quite well and got to ask alot of questions! He was helping a nearby friend to construction, this is normal for everyone to volunteer there time to others in the village, neat sense of community.
In the village you can see Burma (only a few hours away by car or 1 day through the jungle, so we were wondering if they are fearful for their lives as they are still so close to Burma and got to ask how they escaped. We found out most had run through the jungle and landed in refugee camps, or are living as illegal immigrants. some stayed in refugee camps for 3-5 years, they than either got sent to USA, Australia, Canada or they got temporary work visas and were sent to certain districts in Thailand and were not allowed to leave those certain districts (this is true for too lee, while her whole family fled to the USA. The only way they could leave was by writing a permission form to the Thai government and maybe they would accept! It was horrifying to hear all the hardship they have gone through yet they were so humble even downplaying their experience thinking it was normal but unfortunately it is a normal lifestyle for a Karen which is so heart breaking, they truly do not belong anywhere. Our eyes were opened to so many things this trip and our hearts are full of love for the Karen people.
Around 3:00 we said goodbye to the village and Ma too & Too lee & her husband the pastor of the village and her son took us by her truck to ratcheburi to catch a train to Hua Hin! They were all so amazing to us and feel to blessed and lucky to have met them! We got on our first train ride of the trip and it was alot like trains in India....... So not amazing hah but we made it home safe, with new eyes and a new heart!! Please pray for this village and for the Karen people.
Thank you for all who donated to this project. The money you gave truly will go so far to make there pre school center functional!
If anyone wishes to donate 100 percent of funds go to projects and no staff are paid.
Visit www.connect3e.org for more info.