Monday, November 25, 2019 was a very special day at Baan Unrak Children’s Home. We were all getting ready to celebrate the generous donation of a brand-new school bus given to the children of Baan Unrak by the people of Japan! Our guests included three officials from the Japanese Embassy to Thailand and the local governor.
All the children and staff had been working extra hard for the past two weeks to get ready for the big day and everyone’s diligence came together beautifully! The grounds and buildings were spotless, the pavilion was decorated with the flags of Japan and Thailand, and one thousand origami cranes in red, white, and blue formed the flags of Thailand and Japan. It was simply magical to see so many tiny folded cranes dancing together in the breeze!
We were waiting with anticipation, all wearing our best traditional clothes!
As our guests began to arrive and once everyone was seated and refreshments served, the festivities began with a short introduction by our Master of Ceremonies, Mala!
This was immediately followed by a speech by the Governor of Sangkhlaburi, Mr. Pakorn Karnanachai, who welcomed everyone and kicked off the official start of the celebrations.
Immediately following Mr. Karnanachai’s speech, the children presented three different traditional dances. The first dance was from the Karen Tribal people, the second was Thai, and the third was from the Mon Tribal people. The dancers had all been practicing for the past week and their hard work definitely showed! Each dance was unique in its presentation, all the dancers looked gorgeous in their traditional outfits, and all three dances were meant to offer an honoring and joyful welcome to our esteemed guests.
Next, Miss Chintana Tungtriratanagul, president of the Baan Unrak Foundation, presented an introductory speech.
MC Mala kept our spirits high and introduced our next speaker, Miss Sopa, who grew up at Baan Unrak and following her graduation from law school she returned to Baan Unrak for several years to help many of the children through the Thai immigration system to obtain their official Thai citizenship. Currently, Sopa is employed by a non-profit in southern Thailand. Sopa spoke to the children and guests and we were all privileged to hear her inspiring words of challenges met and the success that followed her hard work.
Quickly following behind Sopa, our founder Didi took the podium and expressed the joy and thanksgiving we have all shared for the thoughtful generosity of the people of Japan. It was a rare treat to see Didi step into the much deserved spotlight to offer our collective thanks to the Japanese officials who were responsible for donating the money that made our new bus a reality. Didi also took a few moments to speak about how the new school bus was a symbol of the inherent value of the children who would ride in the bus to school and the many extracurricular activities we all enjoy together.
Mala then introduced the general manager of Baan Unrak, Chusak Kalayanatham. Chusak is known by everyone at the children’s home having grown up from infancy here, graduating from University, and then returning to Baan Unrak to help lead our home into the future. Never a shy individual, Chusak showed himself to be a gifted and natural public speaker as he shared the humble beginnings of Baan Unrak, the challenges and success we have all shared over the years, and where we are headed both as a family and as an organization. Sharing the podium with such esteemed speakers and guests was an amazing experience for Chusak as he remembers being a little boy when the Australian Embassy visited our home in 1999. He could never have imagined at that time where his future would lead, or how bright it could be!
Next, we were all given a great yoga presentation by some of the very flexible and talented children on our yoga team. Seeing how each member of the team relies on their teammates for support and safety was amazing and inspiring, it’s truly emblematic of the support we all need and lend to each other every day for our own well being and balance along the path of life.
Following the inspiring yoga performance, we were all honored to hear the inspiring words of our guest of honor, Mr. Sekiguchi, the Japanese Minister of Economic Affairs to Thailand, who was assisted by Miss Tomii Kumiko, who provided her translation skills.
Didi then approached the podium and offered praise and gratitude to everyone who had worked so hard to make the day’s events a success, as well as our continuing thanks to our honored guests and the generous people they represented.
The first act of the day’s celebration was brought to a close by a beautiful and emotional rendition of three songs, delivered by all the children singing in effortless harmony. Smiles and tears rippled through the crowd as we were all moved by their words of hope, joy, and inspiration accompanied by the lovely guitar playing of Aye Moe.
Immediately after the last song was finished gifts from our weaving cooperative were presented to our honored guests and we all excitedly moved onto the next stage of the party, the cutting of the ribbon, that rested upon our new school bus which resembled a giant present, by Mr. Sekiguchi and Didi. With smiles, laughter, and excitement all around, the children and our guests all posed for pictures in front of our new bus.
The celebrations continued with the group photos!
Then, we gave our guests a tour of the grounds, including the weaving center.
And finally Didi presented a group of former children of Baan Unrak and their success stories.
Following such an emotional and exciting day, we were all ready to just hang out together and relax, with a quiet sense of joy and accomplishment shared by all…