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
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!
When Baan Gerda first started it was a hospice for dying children. Today, we are happy to report that some kids are graduating from school and returning home.
During the last semester we had 2 children (Nan and Gor) graduate from secondary school. Both of them have stayed with us for about 9 or 10 years. We decided to arrange a meeting and invite the families of those children that were graduating.
We explained to them about how Baan Gerda took care of their nieces and nephews; their health, growth and behaviour. We also talked about their future and tried to convince them that nowadays we can live with HIV-infected people, and they can have a normal life and good career.
The meeting was quite successful and a lot of the families were interested in taking care of the kids once again. Nan has now gone back to her hometown in Petchaburi province to live with her aunt. She wants to take a gap year so she can find a job and save money to fund her studies at a university. She has since found work as an assistant clerk at a local TV company.
Gor went back to his hometown in Petchchaboon for a while and then onto Lopburi to continue his education. He will study computer design at a college in the city and stay in a dormitory. His grandfather will support him.
There were 2 other children that left Baan Gerda recently – Hong and Yok. Their parents had been working as foster parents at Baan Gerda for 7 years and have now decided to build a house in Sukhothai. Hong and Yok will study at a local college.
Before the children left Baan Gerda, we had a traditional farewell ceremony when all of the staff and volunteers came to offer them a blessing and good luck wishes.
We have also recently made some changes to our system that will allow some of the kids to continue their studies at different schools. Previously, all of the children have studied at the nearby King’s Foundation School. Those that have good grades and are well-behaved will now have the chance to apply to better schools.
Baan Gerda has rented a small house in Nakon Sawan province (near Lopburi) where the children can stay. The city is larger and has a better selection of schools to meet their needs. We already have 3 children that have graduated and were successful in their entrance examinations. Au is going to study electrical power at a college in downtown Nakon Sawan, and Som is going to study accounting.
Moo graduated from school 1 year ago has been working in Baan Gerda to get some experience. She will now go to study at the communication arts faculty at the university. Baan Gerda will continue to support these children as their families are poor and unable to contribute to their living costs.
This is the fifth sports day that the friends of ‘kaewdiary.com’ have organized for the kids of BaanGerda. We made the event so they can have the same experience as other non-infected kids.
It started one weekday when I went to BaanGerda I saw the children playing at home and not going to school. I asked “why do you not go to school ?” They answered that today is the sports day in the school and the teacher said that the BaanGerda kids should not participate. I did not know why the teachers had such a bad attitude about HIV.
My friends and I wanted the BaanGerda children to have the same happiness and excitement as the others so we organized our own sports day at BaanGerda. We did not have much money to to arrange the event but the children were very happy to take part in sport competitions, be cheerleaders etc… In the evening we staged a party and the volunteers from the website performed in funny shows for the kids. Now the teachers have more understanding of HIV and the BaanGerda children get the opportunity to take part in the school activities.
The sport event has become a tradition between Kaewdiary.com and BaanGerda and takes place in January every year for two days. The first day has the sports events and a party for the volunteers and children in the evening. The next day in the morning is a Buddhist ceremony with monks. We pray for the children who have died in the past and pray for a good life, good health and good luck.
In the afternoon we follow a Thai tradition which is called BAI-SRI (which actually means ‘lucky’ and ‘auspicious’ rice). In this ritual a little robe will connect the adults to the kids. This white robe represents a holy thread. When we connect it to the children’s wrists we bless them and wish them good health and tell them that we love them very much.
It is very time consuming and tiring to organize this sports event. In the end we know that all the trouble and pain is very worthwhile because it is for the children. At the end of the ceremony we all hug each other and say our thanks, ask for forgiveness and good spirit. We then promise to be back again for many other activities in the time to come.
At the beginning of December I arranged for my friends from my website (www.kaewdiary.com) to take the bigger children of BaanGerda to a volunteer camp in Buriram Province. It’s a volunteer camp to help a local school in an area known as ‘Isaan’ in north-eastern Thailand, 410 kilometres from Bangkok.
The objectives of the project were;
- to help a very poor local school.
- to help kids in poor families (we gave many things like books, pencils ,clothes, shoes).
- to teach the kids from BaanGerda about “GIVING” and working as a volunteer. The kids are becoming teenagers and old enough to understand that good people also GIVE and not only TAKE.
– for the kids from BaanGerda to learn about the difference in Thai culture, learn to live with other people.
I brought some twelve teenagers from BaanGerda to Baan Nong Phet School at Burirum and about 30 volunteer from my website. We used money from the donation in kaewdiary.com
At the camp, we helped to build a terrace with a roof in front of the library. We made a shelf to organise the books in the library. We renovated a hall of the school (it’s a little hall that is used for everything such as eating, meeting, etc…) We renovated a statue of Buddha, and we built a washbasin.
BaanGerda’s kids worked hard but they were happy. They have new friends now. They tried to eat local food and they joined in with dancing to local songs (Cambodian song and dance). I think that the kids get a good experience and good memory from this project. And I hope that when the kids grow up they will work as a volunteer to assist people who need their help. On our way back to BaanGerda we all were very happy.
Kaew has been part of the BaanGerda team since 2002 and is responsible for functions, activities and general P.R. She is well-known in Thailand due to her online diaries that chronicle her experiences of living with HIV. She has also published a series of five ‘AIDS-Diaries’ that have become best sellers.
Six years ago, after graduating with a masters degree in psychology, Kaew secured a good job with a large Thai company. It is normal practice in Thailand for new employees to undergo a short medical and HIV test before they can start work. The result was to change her life. The blood test showed that she was HIV positive.
“I didn’t think that I’m in a risk group about HIV because I have only one boyfriend and we have a plan to marry in the next year. My first reaction was to be very sad, afraid and I cried a lot. I didn’t know about HIV/AIDS. I know like many Thai people that AIDS is no way to be cured and it’s a disease that only bad person will get. And everybody is afraid of people who are infected. So I called to the company and lied to them that I got another job, and I lied to my family that I found a company which will send me to work in inland province.”
Within three months her boyfriend was dead. She was afraid to talk about her problems with family and friends because of the stigma and prejudice associated with the disease. Instead, she began writing about her fears and experiences on the internet and soon developed a large readership that sent messages and offered their moral support. Today, her website is a well established institution especially for younger people. For a little annual fee they can register as a member of the website. As a matter of fact, they are regular visitors to BaanGerda and assist with the organisation and sponsorship of many of the activities that you read about on our website.
How did you become involved with BaanGerda?
“At first I start like someone who goes to visit the kids, give some useful things and go home. But then I go every month and invite my friends in my website to come together. We made many activities for the kids, then I became one of staff at BaanGerda.”
How has your life been affected in terms of the stigma of being HIV positive?
“It has affected my life in many ways because in Thailand we still have a bad attitude with people who are HIV infected and there is still a wrong understanding for HIV/AIDS infected people. I have a graduate master degree but I can’t find a good job because in big company they force you to test HIV before you can start work there. And many people are still afraid to stay near those who are infected. Many people still think that somebody HIV-infected must be a bad person.”
Have you noticed any change in people’s attitude here in Thailand?
“I think there is a change in attitude about HIV in Thailand, but it’s a little change and maybe it’s not a real change. You often are told that ‘you can stay together with HIV people’ but in the real life there are still blood tests to isolate people who are infected. But now it is better than in the past because the government provides ARV medicine. It improves the quality of life and helps people to take care of themselves.”