In Thailand there is a charity that is supported by an ecotourism business which truly gives 100% of its profits to this charity that has a simple mission to support physically and mentally challenged children and young adults in the Paksong area.
Although it is a simple mission, it is the way it works which is so remarkable.
By booking a holiday to stay at the beautiful Eco-Logic eco-tourist resort you will be automatically donating to the Thai Child Development Foundation (TCDF) and helping disadvantaged children build an independent and sustainable existence within their community...
Article written by Andrea Arnold.
The Thai/Dutch registered charity founded in 2004 has an amazing team of local people headed by a lovely lady called, Gun (Ms Kanjada Lapma), who has been working full-time at TCDF since 2006. All the team live in the community and have trained over the years to provide the individual care and support where it is needed. Only local, Thai staff work directly with the children providing them with the best possible skill set for each student in a secure environment. Volunteers and visitors to Eco-Logic, however, contribute an important part of a general programme, bringing lots of extra skills, many unique, from different areas of life, enriching the fabric of the community.
So if, as part of your holiday, every Friday, during the open day at the school, called Fun @the Farm (and it is such good fun), you would like to meet the students and enjoy participating in any of the activities taking part during your stay, you will be welcomed with lots of enthusiasm, laughter and smiles. You can also join on Saturday at the Creative Learning Center, a program for local kids. There are a number of activities you can join in with, such as sports and games, art and crafts, musical workshops, yoga sessions and cultural activities to name a few, as well as share your knowledge and discover something new.
Although the TCDF mission is simple, it’s very encompassing, supporting the development of local children in need, in their own environment, working with local schools, medical organisations and village leaders while protecting this beautiful area of Thailand as much as possible.
The rectangular pink building below the Eco-Logic reception area is the TCDF Community Centre and the TCDF Student & Occupational Centre. The Community Centre, together with the outdoor areas, supports all the local children with creative activities such as workshops, camps and seminars and is used on Saturdays during term time as well as school holidays. Scholarships are also arranged for underprivileged children.
TCDF has a medical care and a nutritional programme for children in need, such as operations, medicines and specialist checks. Some children require special diets and extra milk can be provided for babies. Physiotherapy and medical massage are essential for some disabled children as well as exercise machines for use at home with their carers. The Foundation also keeps an emergency fund for unforeseen and urgent situations like Acts of God (flooding, storms) or road accidents. Whatever is needed TCDF support the children with their development, in aid of helping the children achieve their potential?
There is a special school for children who are physically disabled and those with learning disabilities where Gun and the team develop individual programmes for each child. They live within their communities and are picked up and taken home each day in a school bus. They learn basic education, reading, math, writing and daily life skills along with lessons like art, music and sign language.
The programmes are very flexible and are continually assessed to ensure they are providing the best possible scenario for each student. In this way, as they become young adults, they are able to earn a proper wage, contribute to the community in their own right and look after themselves within their own boundaries which they discover with the support of the team.
TCDF have a plant nursery, a mushroom farm and chickens are kept for eggs. They also farm fish and produce their own organic vegetables and fruit. The children learn how to look after the chickens and fish and grow and tend the plants, developing skills enough to become experts. They also have the opportunity to learn skills associated with a hospitality career specialising in eco-tourism through the Eco-Logic centre. They learn housekeeping, laundry; cooking of many different amazing foods and get to work in the bakery that Eco-Logic is already well known for. This teaches them how to look after themselves and to work with others, enabling them to have a proper place in the community which is something we all need.
There are TCDF students already earning their own living through TCDF support and they are contributing to their family income as well as their community. The foundation have already supplied some students with the tools they need to earn proper wages. Tools such as a washing machine to do laundry from home as a job. Tools needed to start growing and selling mushrooms with their family, and one has been funded a fish tank at home to farm fish for sale at the local market.
The students also learn how to print the T-shirts that are sold at Eco-Logic and they supply the resort with beautiful organic toiletries for the guests accommodation. They also produce the best soap, shampoo, siah washer, detergent and laundry softener, using herbs that are grown and ground at the centre.
TCDF will continue step-by-step to add to the wealth of experiences and all round education for the children to make themselves independent and to keep this small piece of the planet as unspoilt and productive as possible. Visitors and volunteers are a big part of this investment. For instance when one visitor came to stay at Eco-Logic, she explained the concept of aquaponics and now the charity is saving money and water resources by filtering water from the fish tanks through little clay balls in channels or troughs where plants such as cucumbers, beans and passionfruit are planted. The plants grow quickly absorbing rich nutrients from the waste the fish produce, the water continues on cleaned by being filtered through the plants and clay balls, returning oxygenated and fresh for the fish tanks again. In the same vein biogas is used for cooking. All the natural waste from the gardens and farm are broken down to compost anaerobically where the gas is then used for cooking. The compost is, of course, recycled to grow more plants. The money saved helps to support TCDF.
There are many ways you can help this amazing charity carry on with the work they are doing now, you can help them with plans they have for the future such as to get solar panels installed for electricity, they’re eco friendly and not so much of a risk as electrical wires are in a rainforest when there’s a storm.
You can help build a new bungalow for Eco-Logic at the bottom of the hill so that disabled and older guests can stay, as well as a spa and swimming pool, plus the current project of 5000 trees planted for a food forest to be run by the local community. All these projects will help to make TCDF self sufficient so that it can carry on supporting the local children of Paksong.
Booking a holiday at Eco-Logic would support these wish lists. It’s possible to book one of Eco-Logic’s beautiful bungalows over certain weeks or months of the year for you or friends to use on a yearly basis.
The local Thai team are the only paid staff and supported by Ingrid and Rosalie who founded TCDF in 2004 (and Eco-Logic shortly after to help provide funding). There is a small Dutch team in Holland, who are also volunteers, look after the administration of the charity, along with a growing International network of friends and ambassadors who have either been to Eco-Logic on holiday, visited TCDF, or who are passionate about the amazing care the foundation exudes on the students, their families and the community as well as their environment to ensure a healthy sustainable way of life for everyone that will grow and grow.
All donations to TCDF are used 100% for the projects and the children in the projects, never for overhead costs. Their financial books are totally open to the public and can be downloaded from the website.
Maybe you could sponsor a child or sponsor one of their programmes if you have a particular interest, perhaps in music, sports or healthcare.
TCDF are trying to make the switch from donations to creating self generating income. As they say: ‘The future is towards self-sustainability, making sure the foundation can continue as long as there are children with disabilities who need help: supporting charity new style!’
You could help by donating your skills. For instance do you have skills in agriculture? Or are you a hospitality team trainer? Or a social-media guru or marketer? Could you book Eco-Logic as a venue? Or do you know someone who is looking for a venue? TDCF with Eco-Logic can arrange all in packages for many different groups from yoga teacher trainings, educational camps, to botany and clay house building. Maybe you’re a lawyer bilingual in Thai and English or a Thai financial advisor? Or maybe you could simply pass this article on to someone who would be passionate to find a project like this.
If you are an artist who works with recycled materials, paints/draws or uses photography there is an Artist-in-Residence programme (ART ECO) to come and do an Artist in Residence program at the Foundation. Details are below https://www.transartists.org/air/thai-child-development-foundation-tcdf
Is it possible that you work for a company that would be interested in the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) concept? Do you own a company which could participate in CSR? One small action can have a big effect. Eco-Logic could be the ideal place for you to run a team building programme.
Or maybe you could just spread the word about their unique Holidays with a Purpose and help them become independent from donations. To find out what happens when you book a stay with Eco-Logic read my in-depth article called ‘Holiday With Purpose’ at charityneeds.com/feature/ecologicthailand.com/holiday-with-purpose or you can simply Google it.
You’ll be amazed how much you can do and get involved with in the middle of a rainforest.