As we are approaching the end of the year, giving thanks to a smooth-sailing year and enjoying the good feasts with friends and loved ones, perhaps it is also time to give cheer and warmth to those who need our help.

In November, I visited a orphanage in one of the remote villages on the Thailand-Burmese border. Named “Pala-U-Noi“, the orphanage houses close to 50 children. Most of them are from the Karen group while some are Thai and others are Burmese. I spent 2 days and 1 night at Pala-U-Noi with my colleagues, interacting with the children and helping to build a frog farm for the orphanage.

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Exterior of the girls dormitory.

Background

People at the Thai-Burmese borders are usually refugees; many whom have lost their lands, families and livelihoods due to ethnic conflicts. As a result, most of them do not have an ID and have no access to healthcare and education from the government. The villagers in this area – including those living in Pala-U-Noi – have limited access to health-care and education, as well as poor diets.

Pala-U-Noi is an orphanage that houses close to 50 children from age 5 to 20. These children have lost their parents and some of them were in poor health when they first arrived. They attend school in the village during the day and help with chores at the orphanage after school. Most of them speak Karen, Thai or Burmese but a couple of them learnt a little bit of English in school.

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Some of the children getting ready to go to school in the morning.

What we observed

As Pala-U-Noi does not receive any steady form of funding, it tries to be self-sustaining through farming. They rear fishes, ducks, chicken, pigs and plant vegetables for food. In fact, we helped to pick the long beans from the farm and the girls cooked them for dinner! However, given the large number of children versus the amount of poultry, their daily meals comprise of mostly rice with only a little bit of vegetables. Eggs and meat are rare treats to them.

As such, a frog farm would be helpful for them as an additional source of food as frogs are part of Karen people’s diet and could be a good source of protein for the children.

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The children at breakfast before they went to school.

Current living conditions 

As you have probably observed by now, the living condition is less than ideal. In fact, one of my most memorable experiences was showering outdoors with the girls with just a piece of sarong! Nonetheless, the children were happy to have basic necessities and were very helpful in doing the chores for the orphanage. Not once did we see the children fight with each other. All of them contributed much effort and time in building the frog farm with us.

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The younger girls did not have mattress to sleep on.

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Interacting with two girls at the creek near Pala-U-Noi.

What we did

My colleagues and I were there to build a frog farm for the school. We couldn’t have completed the task without the help of the head of the orphanage, Samson, as well as the children. Having noted that the children did not have very nutritious meals, we also bought rice, milk, sugar, oil and other daily supplies for them.

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How you can help

We are currently raising funds to buy more supplies for the children. We found out that one pack of 49kg rice could be consumed in less than a week. We will be buying items such as rice, blankets, milk powder and other essentials and will deliver them to Pala-U-Noi again early next year.

If you would like to make a donation to our efforts, please leave a comment with your email address (in the email field) and I will contact you directly.

  • Donations will be sent to me via bank transfer or Paypal.
  • For donations at S$100 and above, I will send a brand new beauty product of similar value to you as a token of appreciation. Donors must be based in Singapore and will have to bear  local courier costs of S$6.
  • This fundraising effort will close on 31 Dec 2013.
  • I will update donors via email and on the blog once we have purchased and delivered the supplies to Pala-U-Noi next year.

If you are keen to help such villages in Thailand or would like to organise corporate volunteering effort there, please do not hesitate to reach out to me and I could link you up with the respective volunteers in charge.

If you are still reading this blog post, thank you for your time and attention. I know it’s long and exhaustive – truly appreciate it!



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