Regarding projects we are sponsoring, things have been moving ahead:
I transferred $1,990 to Napawlulu’s account and requested the money be spent on the following items: 1) Warm blankets, mosquito nets and sandals for all 80 people at her Safe House, Children’s Home and Elderly Home. 2) The construction of a new chicken coop and the purchase of 8 hens, a rooster and some starter chicken feed. 4) The completion of the new shop front, which will sell woven items, eggs and hopefully a wider range of products in the future. 5) The construction of a new fish pond for raising cat fish for the patients to eat. It’s amazing how far $2,000 can stretch here. Labor is cheap and materials are expensive. Yesterday I saw two men cutting a tree trunk into planks, using the ancient pit saw method – one guy’s down in a pit, the other is standing on the log, placed across the pit, and they are using a cross-cut saw to cut the planks, a very primitive, extremely labor intensive, technique. As Napawlulu’s sponsors have told her that her funding will be reduced, and may disappear in some cases, over the next three years, we have been brainstorming around developing new, more local and dependable revenue streams for her project. Ideas include a rice mill, taking in sewing work on a large scale and expanded vegetable and meat/egg production. I will be bringing back about 30 Karen woven sarongs as fundraising items for sale also. The main project we are gearing up for at the moment is an eye operation clinic which Napawlulu offered to host and organize, in just under 3 weeks. Yesterday she and I spent the afternoon cutting up material for the drapes to cover the patient’s faces during the operation. Soon, Nandoe and his son will build the operating tables themselves – again, it’s cheap labor vs expensive finished products. The surgeon is from Germany and spends part of each year doing cataract operations on the Border – such great work!
I have had great trouble securing some of the materials I need. I have been waiting for 3 weeks already for the black tubing for the solar hot water system at Napawlulu’s. This might necessitate a trip to Bangkok, but I have had the offer of help from a Thai speaker, to make sure I get everything and at a decent price. My two solar PV panels should arrive this week and that will allow me to start experimenting with the water pumps – what fun!
I visited a remote Karen village called Ti Lai Pa recently, where they will build a small clinic. I offered to install a very basic solar PV system for them, and this will go ahead as soon as the structure has walls and a roof. The village straddles the border, with the clinic in Thailand and the school in Burma! I hope they get it to a workable point before I have to leave. It is also proposed that I install a small PV system in the orphanage inside the nearest refugee camp, which houses 4,000 people. However, as foreigners, not connected to one of the large aid agencies are not allowed to enter the camp, this seemed a remote possibility. Then it was “suggested” that I could get access if I gave the Thai Border Police a solar panel, ($600 value). I told them that the solar panel wouldn’t work where I “suggested” they stuff it. Welcome to the Border!
I have been working with a group of four Italian actors who are training the kids in Children of the Forest home to put on a performance in a local park. It’s a rework of a Mon legend about the Rabbit on the Moon. I spent all day today getting their lighting and sound system up to snuff. Great people, great fun.
The Sangkhlaburi Roxie is really starting to take off! I’ve shown movies every night this week and will continue to do so, as long as there is interest.
Take care, stay in touch and keep that warm place in your heart open to the folks here on the Border