Eight St. Andrews’ students set off, along with two teachers, on a long journey to Croston House in Chiang Mai. We left school at around 3:45 p.m. by bus, arriving at the train station in Bangkok two hours later. The overnight train ride took fourteen hours in total and was fairly comfortable, though it seemed to last forever. During this time we read and marked some extended essays in preparation for starting our own in January.
Croston House was set up by Mr. Glen Croston and his wife Rosjana in Banglamung on the 1st of June 2005 and was granted foundation status in October 2006. Croston house is located in Lamphun, Makrua Chae, about 4 km from Chiang Mai with 20 children from throughout northern Thailand. These children are between the ages of 4 and 16 years and come to Croston House for a better environment, receiving better care, better education and a chance for an improved future. The children in Croston House are not all orphans. Some are here because their parents couldn’t afford to care for them, so they come here for an improved life.
Children at Croston House are happy and full of life.
Glen Croston picked us up at the small train station close to the centre, and after introductions and a short bus ride we arrived at our destination. The newly built centre is set up simplistically, with three main buildings constructed of bamboo/wood and a floor of concrete. Two of these serve as dorms for the boys and girls, the other is for eating, shelter and other general use.
Due to the extensive rain they had experienced, further building was very difficult as the ground consistency was too wet so this building will have to wait until the dry season.
After settling in, we visited the local school that the children attend. That day the school was having its sports day so we played games such as table tennis and football with them. The school kindly invited us to stay for a lunch of fried rice, som tam and soup.
We then got picked up by Glenn Croston’s wife to go back to do some work. We repainted all of the tables, benches and stools that had been donated to them in vibrant blue and white.
The next day we started work on the new pig pen at the very end of the land, for pigs that were generously donated to the centre. The weather wasn’t easy on us as it switched from baking heat to heavy rain almost daily, but we were proud of the work we had done and Glen Croston promised to send a picture soon, once the pig pen was fully completed.
IB students work the land in weather that switched from baking heat to heavy rain almost daily.
The five boys in our group also bravely attempted to dig a one meter deep hole, six meters long by 3 meters wide, to house the thousands of frogs (also a donation) the centre owned, but had to stop when the rain pelted down again, since the hole just filled up with mud and water.
Before we left we donated 15 fruit trees to be planted in the grounds of the centre to help them on their road to self sufficiency.
After goodbyes were said on Sunday and everyone had exchanged emails, we set off to the airport to begin the journey home. It didn’t take long, though most people fell asleep on the bus back to school. Overall we really enjoyed this opportunity, and I’m sure everyone who went became a lot more appreciative of the lifestyles and privileges we have.