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March 16, 2005

Kamala Kids

Today's highlight was handing out care packages to each of the 49 kids at the Kamala School who had lost a parent in the tsunami. Each received a plastic bag with a t-shirt, a pair of shoes, a beanie baby and a school supply like colored pencils. Well, except we were three kids short. They got two beanie babies and we'll have to do some more for them. That made me feel bad, not to have enough. I thought someone else had counted them. Or maybe, there were more kids in line than we expected.

The kids were very excited about the toys and t-shirts. They were instructed to just trade if they got shoes that didn't fit. It was the last day of school, a half day, so they were really chatty and giggly. Very very cute. I was wondering how they felt, to be singled out. Lucky? Important? Sad? I wondered if they were told they were getting special stuff because of the horrible things that had happened to them. I wondered what they were thinking about this random group of strange-speaking foreigners, who showed up on their school's doorstep to pull them out of class and give them some free stuff. What would that be like?

The teachers were also happy to receive 500(!) pens and about a thousand donated stickers to hand out to the students. We also gave them pictures drawn by kids at the school where I volunteer, and two flags to hang wherever is appropriate. The school did have a nice flag flying. The Money Man and The Bodyguard were impressed that the flags were donated. The only glitch in the whole thing was that while we were making the kits, we ended up with a mismatched pair of shoes—same color and style but different sizes! We assume there is a bag that has the opposite pair in there, so we left the odd shoes with a teacher who hopefully will straighten it all out for the poor kid who thinks we gave him carnival shoes!

To read more about Wednesday's adventures, please click continue below.

***We also visited the preschool, where we donated the rest of the beanie babies. They will stay in a common area, for the kids to play with at school. We didn't have enough to give each child one, after the 49 kids received them. There was a group of about six of them crowding the doorway as I unloaded the bag and they were SUPER bummed they couldn't each have one right that moment!!

I took a ton of photos (film) but I have no idea when I will post any. Shanti wants a photo of each child to post on her website, so they can be sponsored.

We'd met some British people who came along with us to the school, to check it out for incoming donations they are managing. They were kind enough to drive us, and Shanti's new friend Daz, in their rental car to an area north of Bang Tao, where an elderly rubber tree worker lives on borrowed land. Her bungalow was washed away in the wave, and the property is littered with debris. About six people live there, and their well has run dry after the tsunami. They literally have nothing. Two recently rebuilt bungalows, make of corrugated metal, a thin futon to sleep on, and some cats and kittens hanging around.

Daz had told us about the place, and we met his friend Pujan there. Daz trusts Pujan, who said the main thing this group needs is a well for water. Pujan was explaining that it's about $25 per "ring" (cement?) to drill the well. I think he was explaining about the depth, and the cost for drilling (which, in the States at least, can skyrocket if you drill and don't find water, and have to start over.) Shanti decided to grant the group $250 on the spot to drill the well. Daz and Shanti convinced Pujan to oversee the project, trusting that since he works with the government, there won't be any unnecessary 'fees' tacked on to the project by corrupt contractors trying to make a baht.

After a great lunch of fried rice in Phuket Town at a veg place (a lot like Govinda's), we took a colorful open air bus back to Kata, where I've been writing this post to hide from the heat!

Tomorrow we may head toward Khao Lak, Ao Nang, Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi. Not sure what internet access will be like there.

Posted by sedda at March 16, 2005 05:36 PM