Friday, July 9th
We left Khon Kaen early Friday morning and piled into three mini-busses. The ride was around four hours long and through beautiful countryside. We drove through mountains, in the jungle and through a national park.
Random food that I tried on the way to Phetchabun: spicy dried fish (the fish version of beef jerky) and dried oysters, compliments of Glen and Jain who actually enjoy those salty snacks.
Once we got to Ban Meata Phetchabun we ate lunch and met the Australian volunteers who run the children's home. The children's home in Phetchabun is a little different from the children's home in Khon Kaen. Khon Kaen is for children who are HIV positive and is in a large city so they can be close the hospital. The children go to a public school on the property next to the orphanage. Phetchabun is set up like a children's village with little houses and buildings in strategic places. The children live in the houses with kids their age and a house parent. They are all together for playtime and meals though.
The children at Phetchabun attend a Christian school that is run by Mercy International on the same Ban Meata property. It is called Meata Chanupatham Christian School.
The children who attend this school get a very good quality education and are taught English. It is open to anyone who wants to attend. Currently they have over 1,200 students, some of which are Buddhist.
We wanted to see the school, so at 3:30 we went to the school and then actually got on the song-theaw school busses with them to see where the kids who aren't a part of the orphanage live. Our team split up and about 4 of us got on each bus. Nelly, Omar and Mo and I were on the same bus. The kids had no idea what to do with 4 foreigners on their bus. For a while they just stared at us, so we decided to entertain them to break the ice. Nelly started doing little games and tricks with them. It was beyond awesome to see an entire bus of little Thai kids doing "the siren" with her! If you've been on Mexico outreach with Nelly before you know what I'm talking about! :) Some of the kids were showing Mo their homework, and I counted to 50 in Thai with a group of kids, which they thought was hilarious. But the highlight of the ride was folding paper with the kids. They taught us how to fold a piece of paper to make a really loud popper and Nelly made paper birds and space ships for them. I know it made their day.
These kids literally live out in the middle of no-where. Their houses were very simple, made of wood, and most of them built on stilts above the ground. Their houses are very small and their families don't have much at all, but that doesn't seem to matter at all here. They are still so happy.
After we returned from taking the kids home I went to find Wootipong. He is a little 9 year old boy who lives in Phetchabun that I knew when I was there five years ago. He was four years old then and was in Khon Kaen a lot to go to the hospital. Woot (that's his nickname) was born with a hole in his heart and had to go to the doctor a lot. Thankfully as he is growing up the hole is closing on it's own. I brought some pictures for him from five years ago. He got so excited to see them and remembered them being taken. He is a really sweet boy.
We ate dinner with the kids and then did a program for the teenagers. We did some skits and games and then made bracelets with them. The bracelets they were supposed to give away as a gift to a friend. The teenagers had a lot of fun with the program and being creative with the bracelets.