‘Winter Dreams’ makes dreams come true for rural children
Rural children at the Budhasatann Centre
receive their scholarships from representatives of the New Life
On Valentine’s Day, somewhat appropriately, representatives of
the New Life Foundation met at the Budhasatann Centre on Thapae Road to
hand out 23 scholarships, each worth 3,000 baht and 8 worth 5,000 baht
to rural children, under the watchful eye of Khunying Bupphan
Nimmanhaemindha, New Life’s president and founder.
The scholarships were the result of the amount raised at the Winter
Dreams Charity Party, which took place last November, plus donations of
5,000 baht each from 8 overseas sponsors. The 31 scholarships were
awarded as part of the ‘Grandma Cares Programme,’ initiated by the New
Life Foundation for the benefit of rural children and their
Chiang Mai – educational
opportunities on the doorstep
The hills of the north appeal to even
the most diehard city folk, as proven when two
of Bangkok’s largest international schools
recently sent student groups to Chiang Mai for
cultural studies programmes. Prem Center hosted
a staggering 162 year six students from
Bangkok’s Patana School over a two-week period.
The following week, these numbers were trumped
by 182 eighth graders from the International
School of Bangkok.
at the Panya Project mix mud with their feet to
use as natural plaster on earthen walls.
Travelling by overnight train makes our ‘Jewel
of the North’ an accessible learning
destination. Whilst it’s no secret that
backpackers travel through and out again, our
community sometimes forgets the educational
value that hill tribes, history and horticulture
provides in the province.
Both Bangkok groups were seeking an urban-free
experience for their students, beginning their
adventure with activities at Prem’s Organic
Farm. It’s not often that students are asked by
adults to get dirty, but part of their
experience was packing sticky mud mixed with
rice husks into frames to create natural bricks.
This experiential learning also required seed
collection for green compost, transplanting and
On the second day, Bangkok Patana focused on a
Tung Yua Lahu village, studying their hill tribe
lifestyle, agricultural methods and development.
The Forest Restoration Research Unit also
travelled to the Mae Taeng Valley to meet with
the group to discuss fruits and seeds, as well
as restoration planting methods.
The International School of Bangkok scattered
their students across the north in order to
offer a variety of outdoor adventures. Many
students enjoyed some of the more famous
destinations, whilst others went off the beaten
track. Mae Taeng Valley’s Karen village Pa Kao
Laam and the Lisu village Huay Nam Yard
gracefully received guests for home stays, as
did Mae Kampong, which is quickly becoming a
popular destination thanks to Flight of the
Gibbon’s presence. Zip lining, paired with a day
of climbing with Chiang Mai Rock Climbing
Adventures, proved to be one of the most popular
No trip to the north would be complete without a
visit to our national parks, the most famous, of
course, being Doi Inthanon, which leads its
visitors upwards to the highest peak in
Thailand. However, many students preferred to
lodge in the Sri Lanna National Park for a cycle
ride through the Cholae Valley and a kayak ride
on the pristine waters of the Mae Ngad Dam.
Lastly, one group focused on socially
responsible programs within the area, travelling
to the remote, yet serene, location of the Panya
Project. Home to natural buildings and
permaculture workshops, the project gave
students a taste of a sustainable lifestyle away
from the city. Whilst many initially cringed at
the thought of eating vegetables straight off
the plant, they were knee-deep in earthen
plaster in no time. The day was preceded by a
visit to the Elephant Nature Park, where
students donated 8,000 baht in funds they had
raised to sponsor three elephants.
Teachers choose Chiang Mai as their ‘camp week’
destination based on safety standards, the
educational value of its cultural diversity and
the vast range of activities that are on the
city’s doorstep. It’s no wonder that this city
is attracting the attention of some of the most
prominent schools in Southeast Asia.