Nok is one of 4 children who has been accepted into Baan Gerda recently. She is 14 years old and a lovely young girl. Her mother died many years ago from AIDS. She lived with her father who is also HIV positive.
The family are poor. Nok was also found to be HIV infected, and this is the reason no one wants to associate with her, so she had to leave school. She moved from one village to another to looking for a job to earn money for daily living.
Nok also has TB and she has been ill quite often and her viral load is still high. Her father brought her to the hospital to be diagnosed. He left her there and never come back. Nok was on her own for all those years, working in exchange for food. Sleeping at someone’s house whenever she was allowed to.
In April 2015, social welfare staff and a nurse from a hospital in Lopburi province contacted Baan Gerda asking if we could take care of Nok in our project. Without any hesitation, we accepted Nok to come and stay with us right away. She is a charming girl with a beautiful smile. Her height is only 120 cm.
We introduced her to our children and asked her to tell us her back ground and her life. She spoke only a few words but her expression and tears said everything. Her new foster mother took Nok in her arms and said “Don’t cry…don’t be afraid… You have a new family now…”
Nok is now living with 4 sisters and 3 brothers in a happy home. Her foster mother is called Mae Porn. Nok is now continuing with her studies once again. Her new life begins…
Thank you to all the donors and supporters to our project that allow us to take care of children such as Nok.
Much fun and excitement in Baan Gerda; It was a typically hot and oppressive late afternoon in the Lopburi countryside. The temperature is 37C, the kids are sitting down for dinner when the sky suddenly darkens. The winds start gusting and tearing branches from the trees and then the heavens open.
The kids are quite used to violent tropical storms but this was something special. Shouts of “He-mar!” (it’s snowing) as they rushed outside to experience this rare phenomenon. Admittedly, it was hail stones rather than snow, but this is the middle of Thailand and not something you generally expect. The temperature plummeted by more than 15C in 30 minutes but this didn’t deter a group of excited kids from rushing out to collect the “snow”. It’s probably the only time they will witness these freak conditions. Such Joy. More photos here
The majority of Thai people are Buddhist and with over 29,000 temples throughout the country, all males are expected to become novice monks at some period of their lives. Boys can ordain as novices at any age but need to be at least 20 years of age if they wish to become a full monk.
The main difference is that a novice has fewer precepts to follow, although one additional rule means they can’t own or handle money making them dependant on the temple and local community.
The ordination of some Baan Gerda children as novice monks (samanen) is now an annual event. This year, 11 boys shaved their heads and eyebrows and donned the familiar saffron robes for a 10 day stay at a local temple. For some of the children it was their second or third time. In the video, Don Mai and Dtee talk about their experiences.
For 13 years Baan Gerda has been providing a nurturing home, education, life skills, and healthcare including life saving ARV (anti-retro-viral) medicine to over 75 children and 10 of their adult care takers, all of them are HIV infected.. Without Baan Gerda we fear the children simply would not have survived.
In this time span the picture of HIV/AIDS has radically changed in Thailand. It was once a life threatening and much feared disease, but with modern medicine and understanding, it has become a chronic condition where people can expect a near normal life span with near normal quality of life. Accordingly, the needs of those with HIV have changed making a different approach necessary.
The children who first came to us as very sick children and infants are now strong and healthy adolescents. Soon they will be eager to find their place in the adult world.
Special highlights in 2013 include;
- The stable health condition of Baan Gerda children and adults
- Children attending college and university
- Children being trained in vocational skills
- New management staff hired to help with the progress and evolution of the project.
They have been greatly accepted by both children and adults and have shown
promising initial results.
As mentioned already in a previous report we have two different groups of children
a) those who understand the importance of education and can learn and study
with their peers
b) those who have certain learning difficulties or impairments that means they
are not able or willing to learn in the formal school environment.
In 2013 we so far have nine children who finished school successfully and are now able to continue their studies in College or University. In this group there is only one boy. He took up the subject of electrical engineering. All other students are girls who preferred to take up more business related subjects like accounting, graphic design, product design technology, liberal art.
We are proud of the girl Tip who is showing excellent scores and is top of the class. Her subject is graphic design.
To address the specific needs of this group had been a challenge for us for some time. We have been trying to find vocational training for them, but were initially not successful in doing so due the children being HIV positive. The prevailing stigma and misconception that still exist in Thailand, especially in the provinces and rural areas, were reason for this.
We are very glad to report that just recently we found experts in many technical disciplines who are willing to come to Baan Gerda and train and coach the children.
The training provided is very practical and comprehensive and includes electrical maintenance, welding, air-conditioner maintenance and most importantly agricultural skills. This training has been extremely successful and will continue into 2014 with more courses added. Not only do the children learn vital professional skills that will equip them to work, but they also gain confidence and personal development through this program.
This year we successfully completed the water reservoir and hydro-system. There is now a water supply around the boarder of the farm. This canal is 4 m deep and 4.5 m wide. Together with a new pond which measures 6 m deep and 40 m in diameter the farm is now equipped to collect enough rain water to last us through the dry season. We also planted 200 coconut trees and fruit trees. These, of course, will take time to mature, but we start early to maximize the potential self-sufficient capacity of the farm land.
A major part of the farm is still rented out to a neighbour for two reasons;
- the soil is improved by full utilization
- We earn some income
The children are regularly monitored to check their general health and especially to check on their HIV status. We are glad to report that they are generally healthy with viral loads which are within acceptable limits. An exception is the boy Dokdek who is suffering from an HIV related eye disease. He was examined by several eye doctors who told us that all we can do is wait and hope that the condition will stop progressing.
Surprisingly we have a girl who at the age of 17 does not require any anti-retro-viral medicine. This girl has been HIV infected since birth. We, of course, like this and would like to know the reason for this phenomenon. It also surprises us that most children do not develop any more an increased resistance to the medicine.
For our children, the midnight run though Bangkok is a much anticipated and enjoyed tradition. They take their annual participation very seriously and start training two months before the event by running multiple laps around BG grounds on a regular basis. Commitment must be shown to the training program in order to qualify to the event. The children are eager to win a trophy and take the training very seriously by practicing hard.
This year we had an amazing 25 children join the 6 km race. Out of a total number of 7.000 participants our children finished in the medium and upper field. This is a fantastic achievement and Amari Hotel and BMW Group, the organizers of the annual event, were very impressed by the commitment of the children.
Overall 2013 has been a very productive year, and has seen many of the children developing into young adults. Our sincere thanks go to all of you for the continued support which made great achievements possible.
Karl & Tassanee
Father’s Day In Thailand falls on December 5th, the birthday of the current King. It’s a significant day for Thai people and a public holiday throughout the country. Festivities are held in every town and lights decorate households, government offices and private businesses.
The children in Baan Gerda held their own celebrations by lighting candles and declaring their faith the King. A few more pictures can be found on our Facebook page
One of the problems for a foundation like Baan Gerda is that the children become reliant on donations and people doing everything for them. The kindness of our supporters through monetary donations and gifts can condition the children over a period of time so that they see this as normal behaviour.
Baan Gerda has long since had a policy to try and minimise the chances of this happening. The children have been involved with many different projects over the last several years from supporting poor schools to entertaining old people in care homes.
This month, they travelled to a school in Lopburi city to donate food, stationery and toys to the students. Hopefully, this is encouraging them to consider and help others in the wider community.
Time flies – also at Baan Gerda. 15 years ago we had the plan to create Baan Gerda. Three years later the first house was ready for our first family of seven children and two care takers
HIV/AIDS has lost its significance in Thailand and beyond. As a result, it is taken for granted that HIV medicine is freely available through the Thai government. Living a disciplined life adjusted to the needs of those with HIV, people affected can expect to live a normal and relatively healthy life. In the past, an HIV diagnosis was a death sentence. Nowadays the HIV scene is more relaxed – too careless as we learn from the increasing infection rate, especially amongst the teenage generation..
The lightheartedness regarding HIV-matters has also arrived at Baan Gerda. In the recent past many of Baan Gerda’s house keepers have left us to return back to their home provinces. Before we had two care takers per house. Now we have to do with only one care taker.
The soil moving job on the farm is almost finished. A three meter deep ditch now encircles the total farmland to protect against floods, serve as water reservoir and as a borderline between neighbouring sugar cane farms and our farm. Only later we will know how many and which of the children we could expect to work and live on the farm. Until this happens we have rented out 80 % of the farm land to a neighbour. We have already planted 250 coconut trees in order to use the time well.
Meanwhile, four new house have been completed at our village, the new living area was connected to public electricity and new basic furnishing was completed. In two weeks a small road will connect the new houses to the existing road system of Baan Gerda.
Baan Gerda and School Education
School education has become a most important issue at Baan Gerda. Therefore it will occupy a major part of this update. According to their cognitive abilities we list the children into three categories –
a) Lower than average
c) Higher than average
The learning ability of the child is limited. Some children can read and write a little, others cannot read and write at all and will leave school without a certificate. For a period of time they will stay and work at Baan Gerda. Later they will attend craftsmanship courses at existing institutes to prepare for a life ‘outside’ our village.
Such institutes exist in the vicinity of Baan Gerda. Living and working on the farm will be an alternative. As a rule our challenging children are found in this group.
A few rare cases of children still in education chose not to stay at Baan Gerda any longer. As a possible reason, like other teenagers, we assume hunger for freedom and the desire for a life without Baan Gerda rules. So far there were only a few kids who insisted to live independently despite our patient discussions. If the child is still below the age of 18 and not yet considered an adult, by law we try to send him/her back to his or her extended family. If there is no extended family, or the family refuses to take the child back we have no choice but to let him/her go, and report the case to the police.
Thankfully these are exceptional cases, but we still have to live with the bitter aftertaste of failure. Our deepest concern for children who chose early independence is that they will be reluctant, without supervision and support, to follow the strict adherence necessary for anti-retro-viral medicine.
Only recently a former inhabitant of Baan Gerda came back to us. She is now 17 years old and she left us more than a year ago. She asked to return to Baan Gerda. However, away from Baan Gerda she did not take her medicine and now AIDS-symptoms started showing. Before she left Baan Gerda we made sure she was fully informed about how and where to get her medicine.
For obvious reasons we did not dare to take the girl back, but instead managed to find a supervised place in a government owned institution. The positive aspect in this incident was that the other Baan Gerda inhabitants have seen what the virus does to you if you do not adhere to the medicine. We hope that this experience will be a lesson not forgotten to all in Baan Gerda.
These children have average cognitive abilities. They know how to read and write and will continue school until the limit of their ability.
The learning abilities are more than average, at least for Baan Gerda standard. We are encouraged and rewarded by the way they behave and perform. They will complete high school and apply to study in one of the state owned universities. If they are not accepted in one of those favored universities there is still the choice to study in a private owned institution.
This year three of our older kids passed examinations and started their studies in the university town of Nakhon Sawan. This town is 100 km north of Baan Gerda, close enough to allow regular weekend visits to Baan Gerda. We rent a small town house for 138 Euro per month. One of our care taking mothers lives with the children and takes care of the food. For the next semester we hope that four more children will qualify to study in Nakhon Sawan.
A Boarding School in Lamphun
In Lamphun, a town close to Chiang Mai, is a boarding school for girls who are affected by HIV. The school is under the protectorate of the King’s daughter, Princess Sitrindhorn. We had been invited a long time ago to visit and exchange experiences, and finally we were able to do this.
The impression was overwhelming. Organisation and tidiness were exemplary and we were stunned to learn that on average of 85 % of the pupils managed to enter university. The school authority offered to accept children of Ban Gerda to the school, and accompany them on their learning journey until they enter university. We shall gladly make use of this offer.
A warm thank you to you, our dear friend of Baan Gerda for your generous and patient support. Baan Gerda would not exist without you !
Karl & Tassanee
It is common for people to refer to Baan Gerda as an orphanage and sometimes, even our closest supporters use this term. However, we have always felt strongly that the children should be cared for in a normal family environment. This was an important consideration when we started 12 years ago, even though we were not expecting the kids to survive. Today, we know this has been a defining point for our foundation, and something that has impacted the kids in a positive way.
The comfort and security of a family home cannot be underestimated; the children develop strong bonds with their ‘brothers and sisters’ and their foster parents obviously have a key role in their upbringing.
Many visitors are surprised by the upbeat atmosphere in Baan Gerda. The children feel safe and relaxed in their families allowing them to have a normal childhood – which also includes being mischievous and cheeky!
We have learnt many lessons over the last 12 years and have come to realise just how important our family-style village is to the children’s well-being.
To be loved and accepted is a basic need that we all strive for and our families have been pivotal in helping to achieve this.
There are many connotations associated with the word ‘orphanage’ which is why we prefer to avoid it.
The Khon is a traditional Thai dance based on the Ramakien drama which was adapted from the Hindu Ramayana epics. It has an important role in praising and demonstrating loyalty to the Monarchy and symbolises the King’s majestic power.
A few years ago we arranged for a Khon teacher to visit Baan Gerda and teach some of the children. We were quite surprised, not only by how well they performed but also with their enthusiasm to learn. We decided to continue with the Khon lessons and the children took it quite seriously. They have had several small performances and guests at Baan Gerda are always delighted if they are lucky enough to catch a show.
Recently, the headmaster from our children’s school invited the kids to perform as part of an exhibition to promote the new ASEAN community. We are all very happy that they have been recognised for their achievements and hard work.
การที่ประเทศไทยจะต้องเข้าร่วมใน ประชาคมอาเซียน ในปี พ.ศ 2558 ทำให้ทุกคนตื่นตัวกับการให้ความรู้ว่าประชาคมอาเซียน คืออะไร และรัฐบาลมุ่งเน้นการประชาสัมพันธ์เรื่องการเข้าร่วมประชาคมอาเซียนเป็นอย่างมาก
ตามโรงเรียนต่างๆ ต้องจัดการให้ความรู้เกี่ยวกับประเทศในอาเซียนทั้ง 10 ประเทศ ต้องมีการค้นคว้า ทำรายงาน จัดนิทรรศการ เกี่ยวกับอาเซียน โรงเรียนราชประชานุเคราะห์ 33 ที่เด็กๆบ้านแกร์ด้าไปเรียนอยู่ ก็เช่นกัน โรงเรียนได้จัดนิทรรศการแนะนำประเทศอาเซียนทั้ง 10 ประเทศ ทั้งในแง่ข้อมูล ความรู้ และศิลปะวัฒนะธรรม
ในงานจะมีการแสดงที่สื่อถึงประเทศต่างๆ เด็กๆบ้านแกร์ด้า ได้รับเชิญไปแสดงโขน ซึ่งเป็นตัวแทนของศิลปะวัฒนะธรรมไทย ทั้งนี้เด็กๆของเราได้เรียนโขนมาเป็นเวลาพอสมควรแล้ว และได้เคยแสดงในหลายงาน ทุกๆงานต่างสร้างความประทับใจให้ผู้ชม
The annual Baan Gerda trip to the seaside has always been a highlight of the year for both children and adults. It’s always a huge amount of fun and the kids in particular get a boost from spending time away from the relative isolation of their home. As well as the psychological benefits, our staff also report that some of the kids with skin problems seem to benefit from the maritime conditions.
Although costings are kept to an absolute minimum, unfortunately the trip couldn’t take place last year due to financial limitations. So, you can imagine the joy when the 2012 trip was announced. The night before the journey rarely produces much sleep and most of the kids are bouncing around at 3am, unable to contain their excitement.
The owners of the simple accommodation in Ranong have been very helpful since we first stayed with them a number of years ago. They know the status of the kids and have been very supportive – unlike many other places that refused to take them.
This year it was decided that, alongside their exuberant splashing around in the water, the kids should organise a beach cleanup and learn about their role in caring for the environment. We hope that in years to come they will be responsible citizens who understand the importance of looking after one of Thailand’s most valuable assets.
An exciting new adventure travel series starts on National Geographic this week and will feature Baan Gerda in one of the episodes.
Philanthropic adventurer Morgan Parker embarks on an epic solo motorcycle journey from Hong Kong to Brisbane, travelling through ten countries and over 25,000 kilometres.
The 10 episode “Wheel2Wheel” series travels through some of the most beautiful and at times inhospitable terrain in Asia. Some of the highlights include the Angkor temples, Halong Bay and the Cameron Highlands.
Each episode is filmed on location in a new country and highlights the work of one local grassroots charitable organization. The team visits the children in Baan Gerda during episode 6, to be screened on 16th September 2012
Morgan Parker is a successful corporate executive who has been based in Hong Kong for the past 15 years. His 125 day expedition will raise funds for the nominated causes.
This innovative series will broadcast weekly on the Nat Geo Adventure channel (and the National Geographic Channel in Hong Kong) at 8:00 pm on Sunday nights (starting 26th August) across 21 countries throughout Asia, the Middle-East, Australia and New Zealand.
อาทิตย์นี้ ทางช่อง NG จะฉายสารคดีเกี่ยวกับการเดินทางอันน่าตื่นเต้น และในสารคดีชุดนี้จะมีเรื่องเกี่ยวกับบ้านแกร์ด้าด้วย
นักเดินทางใจบุญคนนี้ชื่อ Morgan Parker เขาเริ่มออกเดินทางโดยขี่มอเตอร์ไซด์คนเดียว จากฮ่องกง ถึงเมืองบริสเบน ของออสเตเลีย เดินทางผ่าน 10 ประเทศ ใช้ระยะทางกว่า 25,000 กิโลเมตร
โครงการนี้ชื่อว่า Wheel2Wheel ในการถ่ายทำสารคดีจะแบ่งเป็น 10 ตอน แต่ละตอนจะนำเสนอความสวยงามของภูมิประเทศ และความมีน้ำใจของผู้คนในเอเชีย สถานที่ที่โครงการนี้ไป ได้แก่ นครวัดนครธม ในกัมพูชา อ่าวฮาลอง ของเวียดนาม คาเมรอน ไฮแลนด์ ในมาเลเซีย แต่ละตอนของสารคดี จะไปถ่ายทำในองค์กรการกุศล ที่ดูแลช่วยเหลือคนในท้องถิ่นนั้นๆด้วย โครงการนี้ได้มาเยี่ยมเด็กๆของบ้านแกร์ด้าในตอนที่ 6 ของรายการ และจะออกอากาศวันที่ 16 กันยา 2555
Morgan Parker เป็นผู้บริหารที่ประสบความสำเร็จ ทำงานอยู่ที่ฮ่องกงมากว่า 15 ปี การเดินทาง 125 วันของเขา จะเป็นการระดมทุนเพื่อช่วยเหลือองค์กรการกุศล ที่เขาไปเยี่ยมชมด้วย
สารคดีที่น่าสนใจชุดนี้จะออกอากาศทางช่อง National Geographic ในฮ่องกง และทั่วเอเชีย รวมไปถึงตะวันออกกลาง ออสเตเลีย และ นิวซีแลนด์
Jackie Chan, The Hong Kong action superstar was recently in Thailand to distribute funds raised from his Dragon’s Heart Foundation. So far, it has built over two dozen schools, provided books, fees, and uniforms, and raised millions of dollars to give educational opportunities to poor kids.
His team choose 30 local charities with the focus on children and elderly people in rural areas. People affected by the flooding in Thailand last year will also benefit. Baan Gerda is delighted to be chosen as one of the foundations to benefit. Each organisation will receive 200,000 Baht. Thank you Jackie!