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Thai Girl Tattle: Your Chance To Feed A Child

Times are particularly hard right now for people in the rice growing village in Thailand in which Andrew Hicks lives.

Imaginative steps have been taken to ensure that the village children eat well and stay healthy.

A chicken farm has been established to provide a supply of money and food. Debts have been incurred in setting it up. Donations are required to pay them off, expand the project and provide still more food.

Here is a chance for every Open Writing contributor and reader to give cash help to a project close to the heart of one of our star writers whose columns have provided us with rich entertainment down the months and years.

To find out how to give please visit www.adoptavillageschool.com

Every little helps!

Times are particularly hard at present for the people in my rice growing village in Surin province in Thailand and as a wanderer from a wealthier world Iíd really like to do something to help.

Itís Thai children who have the simplest needs and so the village school in Ban Mahachai is the obvious place to try.

In a column last year http://www.openwriting.com/archives/2008/12/do_they_know_it.php#more I told you about the plan set up through the generosity of a Japanese friend to benefit the school. You can find the details on www.adoptavillageschool.com in which our key project has been providing the children with lunches during the school day.

In a further article http://www.openwriting.com/archives/2008/12/do_they_know_it.php#more I told how your generous response enabled the lunch program to be continued.

At first our idea was to provide the school with IT equipment but on hearing that almost half the children were below the recommended body weight, we started with something more basic, to make sure they have at least one proper meal a day.

The teachers tell us that the childrensí general health and their concentration in the afternoon has improved since we started and we are keen to raise more donations to keep the lunch program going. In response to my appeal, readers of my blog gave us many donations for lunches, though more funds are still needed of course!

The big news now is that we have recently had a major donation of 50,000 baht which has been used to build a substantial shed for raising chickens for eggs. When news came of the offer, the teachers leapt at it, had estimates quickly drawn up and within weeks a substantial shed was built, using that money.

Now eighty chickens, cages and feed for three months have been bought and eggs are being produced. The bad news is that the cost of these was 45,000 baht which has been borrowed and we now have to raise the money to pay off the loan.

At present the shed is at half capacity and on the same figures (ignoring the cost of additional feed) a further eighty chickens and cages for which there is plenty of space would cost about another 24,000 baht. In the longer term this should be our aim.

A first donation of 20,000 baht has already come in to reduce the loan, collected by an energetic friend from his contacts and colleagues in Thailand and Europe. This money the new headmaster received and signed for a few days ago.

However, to pay off the rest of the loan we still need 25,000 baht and perhaps as much again if we are to expand capacity with a second purchase of eighty more chickens. The aim is therefore to raise 50,000 baht if the project is to reach its full potential.

Like the lunch program, I therefore hope the money will come in as itís a dream project that has everything going for it. All the hard daily work with the chickens is done by the children themselves. Every day a team of three kids are responsible for measuring the feed and putting it in the bins for the chickens, ensuring the water is flowing, and collecting the eggs and putting them in trays. They then have to report to Khun Thongchai, the teacher in charge and account for the number of eggs collected and for any eggs broken, and make up and sign the accounts book.

Another book records sales of eggs to local people and already shows the money slowly flowing in. All this provides a valuable discipline to the children in demonstrating how a business should operate with proper accounting. It always strikes me that as there is little formal employment in rural Thailand, this is an essential skill for the poorest of people running small farms and micro-businesses in the countryside. No accounts are generally kept and nobody knows what if any profit has been made.

At present the eggs being laid are small but their numbers are increasing and the chickens should be productive for about two years. When laying at their maximum, I hope that the eggs will provide sufficient income to make the project self-sustaining and allow a surplus of eggs to be used for school lunches. If the teachers could then include calculating the profitability of the business within the school math curriculum, the project would feed both the childrens' bodies and minds.

Thatís why itís such a perfect school project. Chickens round here are scrawny free range things and this experience of how to raise eggs properly in an efficient commercial way should be immensely beneficial for a generation of children.

We now need some donations to ensure that all the hard work that the teachers have put into the project comes to full and long-term fruition. They are very proud of their achievement so far and immensely grateful for what has been given to the school.

Every Little Helps!

Donations for lunches or the chicken project can be made in any currency to my Paypal account at www.paypal.com with reference to Andrew Hicks at arhicks56@hotmail.com.

Or do please email me at arhicks56@hotmail.com if you prefer to do an ATM transfer in baht direct to the projectís account with Kasikorn Bank.

Why Donate?

Most people round here are pretty poor. Farming is marginally profitable and there is little paid work. A daily wage is perhaps 150 baht or three Pounds Sterling, yet things such as medicines cost much as they do in the West. Thatís why the needs are great and hy a small project such as this can really help the children. Because itís still small, donations are not tax deductible though every cent, penny and satang is used effectively as there are no expenses or deductions before the money is spent.

Small surely still is beautiful!

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