A life without cause is a life without effect.
In Asia there is no shortage of under-resourced, worthwhile children’s causes. Over the past few years I have been associated with a few such causes in Cambodia, India and Hong Kong. Through serendipity I found out about Yaowawit, which means Student Academy in Thai. I immediately connected to the good, nurturing, and life-enhancing work which Yaowawit does every day for some 120 very needy Thai kids. Yaowawit’s emphasis on education and vocational training resonates with me as a lasting solution to the poverty cycle in a part of the world for which I hold deep affection.
In the aftermath of the destructive 2004 tsunami, this non-profit was established in 2006 by a German philanthropist in Thailand’s Phang Nga province. Officially registered as Children’s World Academy Foundation and recognized as a “private welfare” school, the idea originally was to sustainably help the victims of this natural disaster. In the past five years Yaowawit has expanded its scope of assistance beyond tsunami victims. Thai princess Maha Sakri Sirindhorn also supports this foundation, which is located in the small village of Kapong, about 90 km north of Phuket.
This boarding school was founded for children and orphans, and today the children under Yaowawit’s nurturing come from the poorest and socially disadvantaged families or suffer from diseases and their consequences.
The children receive a first class and individual education leveraging their strengths and are coached to become responsible, self-confident, and self-reliant. Through education and training the poverty cycle can be broken.
Breaking the Poverty Cycle
Yaowawit believes education holds the key to sustainable improvement in the lives of these underprivileged but highly deserving children.
- Basic Thai Curriculum
- Practical skills and preparation for future occupation
- Hospitality training
- English communication
- Electronic media and communication
- Agriculture, Farming, Fish Farm
- Handicraft & Sewing
- Entrepeneurial skills
- Social values and personal development
- Daily meditation
- Social responsibilities in the neighborhood
Currently there are more than 120 children aged between 4 and 18 years and around 30 teachers and other employees living and working in Yaowawit. The children are educated and looked after by 10 teachers and 4-6 international volunteers as well as a nanny and several family managers.
Kindergarten and primary school is taught at Yaowawit. Older Yaowawit students board at the Yaowawit campus and attend public secondary and high schools, or vocational school.
- The students receive an education based on the Thai curriculum. The class size is around 12-14 students and the teachers are well respected as teachers but they are also friends, coaches and counselors.
- The students also learn practical skills such as hospitality in the Yaowawit Lodge with 6 rooms and 2 restaurants. The students are trained in hotel and restaurant service in theory and on the job through volunteers from the leading hospitality school in Switzerland (SEG =Swiss education group). In the future every student will also spend 1 week per year learning in the kitchen, in the hotel and in guest relations.
- Yaowawit has 73 rai (or 12 Hektar) land dedicated to agriculture. The students grow organic vegetable, fruit and herbs for the own school kitchen or the sale at the close Kapong market. An herbal learning centre will be opened with school start in May 2011. Daily agricultural classes are an important part of the Yaowawit curriculum. The rice field, the palm oil plantage and the fish farm helps the students to understand the concept of self-sustainability in theory and practise.
- Assisting the Yaowawit maintenance team the students also learn about construction and crafts.
- English is an important part in the Yaowawit curriculum. Yaowawit students have twice the number of English lessons than public schools and they focus much more on communication. They are taught by a Thai English teacher together with always 2-3 native speakers or international volunteers in every class. That way we can guarantee that all students can be educated according to their capability level and be successful in learning and progressing. In addition all students receive specific advancement through individual reading or phonetic classes, role play and casual conversation in English throughout the whole day.
- Yaowawit has a professional computer room with 20 work stations (financed and approved by the Thai government) which is used to teach the students the efficient and responsible usage of electronic media and communication.
- Yaowawit’s sports field and a 25 m swimming pool (donated by a German sponsor) ensure daily exercise and training. All Yaowawit students learn swimming. The pool is also used to teach external guests swimming.
- Every Yaowawit student is personally responsible for the cleanliness of the school and the dormitories, bathrooms and his/her personal laundry as well as for some social work in the Kapong community.
- All students are encouraged to develop entrepreneurial skills. Some help running the “fried banana stand” or help manage the local Kapong market stand.
The Financial Challenge
Around 65% of Yaowawit’s income comes from Swiss and German donations and sponsors, and the depreciation of the Euro in 2010 has resulted in a significant operational deficit and in accrued liabilities. The school needs your help to urgently fill this gap.
The ultimate goal is to increase the school’s self-sufficiency through developing the hospitality and agriculture revenues, but presently these sustainable sources only account for about 10% of revenues.
In 2010 Yaowawit had to suspend staff salaries as a result of this urgent financial challenge.
The Fundraising Target
I have committed to help Yaowawit raise US$35,000 by cycling across Europe. With these funds, Yaowawit will be able to: retire all accrued liabilities, including staff salaries; implement urgent maintenance work; and invest in first aid kits, blankets and pillows for the children.
For more information, please visit: www.yaowawit.com