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Regentís School students take memorable service trip to Mae Hong Son

Navy donates to special-needs children at Ban Khao Baisri School

Regentís School students take memorable service trip to Mae Hong Son

During half term, a group of 26 students, two GAP staff and two teachers from The Regentís School travelled to the hill tribe village of Baan Ompai in Mae Hong Son. The purpose of the trip was to complete a service project at Baan Ompai School, concreting their playground to allow for a wider range of recreational activities to take place. Here two of the schoolís Canadian exchange students, Ava Appleby and Claire Norwack, give their impressions of the trip:
We all piled on the bus on Saturday afternoon as we began our adventure up north to Baan Ompai to build a playground for the local school. After a long bus, train, and yet another bus journey we arrived at our destination. On arriving we were given a chance to look around the village and the school to see where we would be staying for the next few days. Even at a glance, you could see that these people did not have as much as the students at The Regentís and that the work we were about to begin would really make a difference. It is not every day that they have a group of people willing to help out.
The school treated us to our first meal on Sunday night, which was the first of many delicious meals prepared by the teachers especially for us. It was difficult to see them put in such an effort to cook this special food for us and then to watch the local children sitting on the floor eating a much simpler meal. However, this was one of the many ways they showed just how much they appreciated our help.
The next morning we were all woken up at sunrise and were told to quickly get dressed for breakfast. This mainly consisted of rice soup, coffee or hot chocolate and fruit. Right away after breakfast we started our work. It was quite a big job and the local Head teacher told us we would not be able to finish it in the three days we were given.
A group of us shovelled gravel and sand into buckets, which were carried over to a cement mixer manned by a few local men. From there the mixed concrete was sent down to the playground where the rest of the group passed full buckets to the area where the cement was being laid. The work was excruciatingly difficult, and some found it harder than others. It took us one full day to complete three full rows of the playground. By the end of the day we were all exhausted and headed up to our rooms for a very cold, yet refreshing, shower.
On day two we took part in the schoolís assembly. Every morning the students line up in their classes for an assembly and to raise the flag. They sing and recite prayers led by one of their senior students. For this special event, they introduced our group and then gave us a chance to hand out some gifts that we had brought for the children. It was such a great feeling to see the children so happy with what we had brought for them that it gave us a little more motivation to go back to work.
The work on that second day went much quicker and we made good progress. We had a similar task as on the first day, except for the fact that many people were suffering from aching backs and sore hands. Some of the local adults came to help us out even though we didnít need it. The people of the village seemed to never rest and all they wanted to do was help out. Even the children at their break times would come and pick up a shovel and do anything they could. It was amazing to see people so willing to put in an effort for a local project.
That night after dinner, the local schoolchildren hung around and everyone played and interacted with them. Even though it was difficult because we could not all speak their language, we were able to play sports and other games that do not necessarily need verbal communication. The younger children also loved the digital cameras, which was great because we all got tons of photos. After taking a group photo all the kids would run and crowd around the camera to see themselves on the screen.
On the third day, we worked hard to finish the playground by lunchtime. It was a great feeling to have accomplished something that would benefit those who would appreciate it probably much more than someone from where we come from. Everyone was very glad to be finished! We took advantage of the extra time we had that afternoon and used it to do arts and crafts with the children. Between colouring and origami everyone was creating some work of art and being able to connect with one another, often without sharing a common language.
We spent our last day in Baan Ompai on a trek through the hills. It was great to see more of the area and allowed everyone to see what a beautiful place it really is. We walked along the main road, but also cut through the valleys, over a few hills and through small villages. Some of the children that go to Baan Ompai School live in these villages and they have to walk for at least an hour every day to go school. Eventually we came to our destination at a waterfall and had lunch. It was a stunning area and a nice place to cool down after a long, hot walk in the sun.
That night the school threw us a going-away barbeque and party. It was a lot of fun and many people were there including some students and teachers from other schools in the area. We had an abundance of delicious food prepared for us and some of the hill tribe kids put on performances, as did some of the students from The Regentís. The show was a great conclusion to our stay up in Baan Ompai and the Head teacher took the time to thank us for what we had done during the days we were there. The local children had also made us bags and pictures for us to take home as souvenirs.
The whole trip was an amazing experience and was a great break out of the ordinary day-to-day life. Being able to interact with the children was something we will never forget, just like the feeling of knowing that we did something that will have an effect on the lives of the people of Baan Ompai, even if it was just laying cement. We had such a great experience that we hope it will encourage other people to want the same, to go and discover what is out there, and do their bit in making the world a better place.

Interacting with the hill tribe students.

The playground at the start of the second dayís work.

The Regentís School joins Baan Ompai School for their morning assembly.

Students shovelling cement.

The Baan Ompai School playground at the start of the week.

Students from The Regentís hard at work shovelling gravel.

Students from the two schools on the newly laid playground.

Navy donates to special-needs children at Ban Khao Baisri School

Rear Admiral Pachon Ramkomut, deputy commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Fleet in Sattahip distributes funds to Mrs. Getsara Pouaknang to use at the special needs school.

Mrs. Getsara Pouaknang leads Rear Admiral Pachon Ramkomut and officers on a tour of the school building and surrounding area.

Patcharapol Panrak
The First Naval Area Command of the Royal Thai Fleet on March 7 donated funds for school meals and sports equipment for the special-needs children at Ban Khao Baisri School.
Rear Admiral Pachon Ramkomut, deputy commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Fleet in Sattahip was appointed by Vice Admiral Jamnong Kittipeerachon, commander of the First Naval Area Command, to lead the presentation.
The funds went towards a school lunch project, and learning and sports equipment for those children at Ban Khao Baisri School who have special needs. School director Mrs Getsara Pouaknang and her staff welcomed Rear Admiral Pachon and his accompanying officers.
Ban Khao Baisri School, which is located at Plutaluang, is the sole special-needs childrenís school in Sattahip District. Former school director Mrs Pisamai Pannoi had realized the problems of underprivileged and abandoned children, so she opened the school to educate and take care of them.
Those children who have disabilities also suffer from problems that arise from family pressures, where parents who need to work donít have much time to give to them. Many children find themselves isolated, unable to participate in games and activities with other children, and consequently grow up with a low self-esteem.
The school has long been supported by the Royal Thai Navy in Sattahip, along with government offices, private organizations and individuals that donate money, materials, learning and teaching tools, sports equipment and toys.

Children at Ban Khao Baisri School gather to thank the benevolent donors.